And I was equally delighted to be able to sit down with the short and review it for all of you.
Would this match up to the mad, manic energy of Joe Grisaffi's movie?
STALKING MISS BARLOW (2014)
Dir: Derek Huey
Starring: Keefer Barlow, Drew Brown, Larissa Dali, Cara Cochran, Dan Braverman, John Dalbosco, Kelly Grace, Lance Henry, John Maciag, Lou Mires
SHORT SYNOPSIS: I’ll try not to spoil too much as this is a short, but read on at your own risk.
Keefer Barlow plays Miss Barlow, a jaded alternative universe version of herself. She has become embittered towards her career choice as an indie horror actress, feeling disdain and irritation towards the crew who make these movies and the fans who watch them.
When we first meet her she is in the midst of complaining about yet another night shoot, while her crew — including hilarious chain smoking grips Drew (Brown) and John (Maciag) and starstruck cameraman Jacob (Dalbosco) — dismiss her as little more than a bitch with good boobs.
After catching a lift from director's assistant Catherine (Dali), Miss Barlow stops off at an all-night petrol station for cigarettes — but while she is inside Catherine is attacked and abducted by a mystery assailant.
After Miss Barlow makes her way home, we see the crew reconvening for another night of filming at a residential setting. However, somebody starts to pick them off one by one, working his way through the filmmakers as he draws ever closer to Miss Barlow. What does he want? Will Miss Barlow survive her inevitable run in with the maniac? And just how many cigarettes can Drew work his way through in the 24min runtime?
WHY IT WORKS: Much like Conjoined, Stalking Miss Barlow is an immensely witty little film that slowly but surely goes to some VERY dark places. The humour is well-written with some crackling dialogue and some loving digs at the indie horror movie making process. Most of the characters are egomaniacs, soul destroyingly cynical, demented or some combination of the three, yet despite this, they are still kind of likeable. This is a film full of smartarses and each one delivers lip-curling, cutting putdowns and world-weary outbursts of indignation with such aplomb that you can't help but feel for them. This is some pretty damn fine writing by Huey!
Of course the characters are only as good as the cast that portrays them, and I don't imagine a single review for Stalking Miss Barlow will go by without significant praise for the titular heroine. Barlow is magnificent, perfectly encapsulating the bitter sadness of her character. She has superb comic timing, so while at the start of the film she is filled with snark and bitchiness, she never becomes so unlikeable that she loses our sympathy. Later on when the character is required to emote the more poignant moments of the script, in which we are shown her sad, lonely disappointment at the way in which life has gone, Barlow is equally fantastic. She really does have an excellent range to go with her cute good-looks. What a star.
The rest of the cast are pretty good as well, especially when you consider the fact that most perform other roles in the film-making process too.
Cochran has the looks and talent to go a long way in the genre, while Dalbosco has plenty to work with and proves pretty great when his character hits his stride. His is arguably the most complex character (after Barlow's of course) and he does smashing job at portraying both sides of Jacob's personality.
Maciag gave a surprisingly assured and nuanced performance as old pro John, while the very funny Brown gets some of the scripts finest moments and very nearly steals the show. I especially enjoyed his cool as hell drag on the cigarette gag during the baseball bat scene!
The cast are obviously well guided by Huey whose directorial talent is apparent even on this micro-budget. I've mentioned his talent for shooting comedy, but what I haven't yet touched on is how well he handles the scare side of things too.
There are a couple of legitimately great creepy scenes nestled in among the laughs and the pathos of Barlow's scenes. Using a giallo-style villain, clad head to toe in black with a motorcycle helmet obscuring his features, the short has a handful of shocks and some spine chilling moments. One brought to mind another fantastic horror short, Bedfellows, and was surprisingly suspenseful, while the final scenes that play out over the end credits descend into nightmare.
These scenes practically scream 'SEQUEL' and if I were to hear that this is the first on a series of shorts I would be delighted. There's plenty of scope for more and, most importantly, there is enough quality here to build interest in one. So, Shooting Miss Barlow, anyone?
SO WHERE’S IT AT? Huey assures me that a dvd will be available 'soonish' so be sure to check out the Pop-Up Picture Show official Facebook page for more news on that. Give them a like too, they deserve your support!
10 WORD WRAP-UP: Barlow impresses again in smart, funny, scary short — sequel please!
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