Friday, 28 August 2015


One of the things a good short film does that few feature-length movies can match, is telling a joke, hitting its mark and getting out of there before wearing out its welcome. Think of it like a sketch show rather than a full length sitcom — the whole point of a joke (or a spooky tale in many cases) is to get to the satisfying conclusion. Interest can only be held so long in a simple tale, so a shorter runtime is perfect. Now combine horror and comedy and you can see exactly why there are so many short films that merge the two.
Which leads us to Invaders, Jason Kupfer's tongue-in-cheek look at the 'strangers-in-the-house', Home Invasion sub-genre, a short film which also just so happens to be opening the first Film4 FrightFest Shortfilm Showcase.


Dir: Jason Kupfer
Starring: Jordan Woods-Robinson, Ricky Wayne, Larry Bukovey

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: This is a short so I'll try not spoil too much, but read on at your own risk.

One cold, dark Thanksgiving night a happy family sits down for dinner oblivious to the danger lurking outside.
For, in a car parked outside the house, two armed and dangerous criminals are planning their invasion of the family home. But these axe-wielding psychos aren't just formulating a strategy to subdue their victims — this is a far more indepth look at the planning the sort of villains from You're Next, The Strangers or The Purge would have needed to carry out. Chief among which? That all important decision on a spooky as hell costume.
As the pair debates the artistic merits of the classic balaclava vs Venetian masquerade headgear or latex animal masks, the clock ticks down to the moment at which stark violence and shocking bloodshed become inevitable...

WHY IT WORKS: The wave of Home Invasion horror flicks in recent years is one primed for parody — with plenty of tropes and enough titles in the field to ensure an audience is familiar with the injokes it makes, a film like Invaders has been a long time coming.
Luckily, it has been well-worth the wait. There are few things as amusing as looking behind the curtain to see a more real-life version of familiar horror stock characters — especially when we're looking at the villains, the true stars of the genre.
Much like the very, very cool Torturous did with the Torture P0rn sub-genre, Invaders is hilarious because it reduces the creepy masked boogeymen of these films into mundane and actually pretty dorky bunglers. It's very hard to suppress a giggle as a man brandishes a hunting knife while wearing a latex squirrel mask and excitedly exclaims: 'YOU SEE?!?! That's some nightmarish shit right there!'
As you may have guessed, it is the two titular invaders that the short focuses on and the characterisation here is hilarious. Passenger (Wayne) is the serious, long-suffering one of the two, an exasperated professional who wants to just skip the bells and whistles and get on with the job at hand. Driver (Woods-Robinson) on the other hand is the excitable one and seriously digs the cool aesthetic touches that he feels are just as important as the actual task. His excitability proves a liability early on, the pairs' clumsiness and lack of planning a fantastic source for some black-as-Hell slapstick and witty, amusing quips and retorts while the two bicker.
Director Kupfer wrote the script as well and that is one of the strongest elements of the film. It unfolds like a relentless gory farce and the key to its success (along with familiarity with the Home Invasion flicks it lovingly pokes fun at) is the strong character work. 
Kupfer is a talented writer and he is helped no end by the two superb leads. Wayne and Woods-Robinson make for a brilliant team and have palpable chemistry. Each has impeccable comic timing and both are excellent in their roles. These are two extremely talented gentlemen.
However, it's not just those in front of the camera who should feel proud of their work — director Kupfer, production designer Brent Fesen, editor Mike Quinn Jr, art director Poldo Ramirez and cinematographer Marco Cordero give us a visually rich and impressive film that oozes quality. From framing to lighting, from cutting to the entire look of the piece and everything on screen, this is a film that looks a million bucks. There are also some wonderfully wacky camera angles that I found really grabbed the attention and added one more reason to believe that this is a team of filmmakers destined to go a very long way.
Of course, one element that I mentioned earlier that I’m sure plenty of horror fans will have picked up on was the violence and gore. Trust me when I say the effects work when the splatter starts to spray is absolutely top-notch. It goes to a place that I certainly didn't see coming during the gentler moments at the beginning of the short and delivers a visceral 'punchline' that is guaranteed to have gorehounds howling with pleasure. No spoilers but that final scene that plays out over the end credits is an absolute riot and the effects team prove they have just as much talent as the others I've singled out for praise here. 
Well done, guys!

SO WHERE'S IT AT? The film is currently touring on the festival circuit, so check out the film's official Facebook page for more information as to where you can catch it and further updates on its upcoming November web release. Give it a Like while you're there too, show some love!

UK readers planning to attend the Film4 FrightFest will be delighted to hear that the film will playing on Discovery Screen 2 during Short Film Showcase 1 on Saturday 29th August.

10 WORD WRAP UP: A humorous and fun take on the Home Invasion genre 

Read my previous Film4 Frightfest special reviews for Suspension hereThe Nightmare hereWind Walkers hereStung here and Night of the Slasher here.

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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