Tuesday, 6 January 2015


I've said this plenty of times before, but I think there are a number of extremely gifted, bright talents in indie horror, many of whom truly shine without the constraints of big studio interference.
And nowhere are these talented filmmakers and actors given more freedom than in short films.
Shorts have offered some of the most fantastically dark, challenging and beautiful screen moments since this blog was resurrected last year. From the old school creepiness of Doll Boy and Klagger, to the beautifully disturbing I Am Monster and the biting social commentary of First Night, shorts can offer it all — which is why I get excited to hear about any that are making waves.
Few have received as much acclaim as Fatal Pictures' efforts. With their new offering Heir on the way, now seems the ideal time to review their previous hits — Worm and Familar.
Will these two hit the heights of the shorts listed above? Read on...

WORM (2010)

Dir: Richard Powell
Starring: Robert Nolan, Kimberley Curran, Dustin Foxman, Kyle Martellacci, Christina McLain, Samantha Nemeth

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I'll try not to spoil too much as this is a short film, but read on at your own risk.
Geoffrey Dodd (Nolan) is a quiet, well-mannered and amiable high school teacher — at least that is what everybody thinks.
Via an increasingly disturbing voiceover we are given an insight into Geoffrey's dark and deranged psyche, gearin his true thought and feelings towards himself, his colleagues and, most terrifyingly, the pupils in his care...

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): ROBERT NOLAN.
This entire short follows one character and the performance of Nolan in the role is pivotal to success of the short — and Nolan is a revelation.
He is absolutely astonishing in the role. His performance is flawless, whether physically or in the vocal inflection of his increasingly bitter, twisted and horrifying internal monologues. I have seen some great performances in short films and Nolan's is easily up among the very finest of them. 
The writing in the monologues is also magnificent — at times darkly humorous, at others tragically pathetic but always truly scary. Hearing Geoffrey's ever so creepy yearning for a pretty student, his bitter and envious hatred for a young man with his life still ahead of him and his petty, hilarious but vindictive feelings towards the fellow teachers he can barely stand to be around is a brilliant ploy, making the short feel almost like a novella, a dense text on which we are given a peek behind the curtain of a drab, average man and see the hideous thing inside.
Worm is also shot brilliantly. The increasingly claustrophobic tight shots on Nolan's face just heighten the tension. When combined with the building hysteria in his delivery you find yourself waiting for the inevitable explosion — and dreading what may come.
The everyday backdrop of a regular high school is transformed into a smothering prison through camerawork that drags you kicking and screaming into Geoffrey's world. Excellent work.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): There really is very little to find fault with here. I suppose the nature of the short film brings it own problems — a limited running time brings its own constraints.
First, while the character of Geoffrey is brilliantly and effectively realised, the other characters have less depth. Of course the whole point of the story is that it is entirely from one very sick man's perspective. It isn't beyond the realm of possibility that he sees those around him as little more than annoyances or one dimensional embodiments of his own feelings of inadequacy and isolation. 
Frankly, I was quite happy with Worm just being the story of Geoffrey, told from his point of view. With a lead this compelling time spent with other characters would only disappoint!
Second, and I'm loathe to discuss this as it covers the ending of the short but feel I should address it. I would seriousky suggest that if you haven't seen the short yet you now skip over on to my verdict as this following point is neglible anyway. This is a short film that works best if you are unspoiled so please come back to this section of the review only AFTER you have watched it.
Still here? Sure you are prepared for spoilers? Okay, read on SPOILERS********** Some people may be disappointed that the seemingly inevitable meltdown doesn't come. The downbeat ending may leave some exasperated. While I can understand that point of view, I have to say that I completely disagree. While the short finished at a set point, the story is still going. Just because this day wasn't the day of the inevitable and terrible tragedy that is on the way, that doesn't mean it will never come. Geoffrey will live this day and the next and the next under the same pressures, his feelings just getting stronger. The bloodshed will come, and THAT is the most terrifying thing about this short. We saw how close these characters came to a truly horrifying climax. The most frightening thing about this story is that this man is undetected among us, simmering away, getting closer and closer to that breaking point. We know it will come but everybody else remains oblivious... until it is too late. SPOILERS END **********

VERDICT: Wow. I'd heard some great things about Worm but I was still shocked by just how amazing it was.
Anchored by a brilliant performance by Robert Nolan (one that assured I will eagerly look forward to more of his work) and fantastically shot and crafted by writer/director Richard Powell, Worm is a must-see. As much a fascinating character-drama as a horror story, this is yet another gem in the ranks of genre shorts. Seeing this has made me all the more keen to get to Familiar. Oh, and did I mention that the upcoming Heir sports the Hickey's House of Horrors dream combo of Robert Nolan AND Bill Oberst Jr.? 
2015 is shaping up to be a great year already!
If you get the chance to catch the short, I thoroughly recommend that you do so. In the meantime, check out the movie’s Facebook page. Be sure to Like it while you’re there too, these guys deserve our support!

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to!
Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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