Horror Short Film of the Month – T is for Temptation (NON-Claymation)

Remember that “ABC’s of Death Competition” I raved about in a previous post? This was an official submission, and probably the one I’d have voted on if I’d discovered the contest in time. I realize I already posted Best Claymation short film of the month, but this one’s live action. It’s flawless and very impressive. I think it’d probably get away with a PG-13 rating –or be very close–in terms of content. Also, doesn’t quite go in the direction you think it will, and I’m usually pretty dead-on (too dead-on for my own good, when my brain ruins plot-twists and reveals and spoils it for myself) at second-guessing plots in any horror content. I also hope it gets the attention it deserves. It was obviously created with care and concern and craftsmanship, and it all comes together perfectly.

…a fine work of film-making that REALLY knows what horror fan audiences want: story, scares, and some gore. A horror film can be pretty good when it contains 2 of the above (for example: good story, good scares, I can live w/the barest amount of gore possible).

I gave it a 10/10 on the IMDB page for the short film (which was written and directed by Michael Foulke, and trust me, he knows what he’s doing. Here’s the official plot description:

An ambitious, cookie selling girl scout who won’t take no for an answer may have bitten off more than she can chew when she knocks on the door of a serial killer.

The writer/director was even cool enough to send me a message when I raved over it and gave it positive feedback (after it blew me away) on the YouTube listing. Here’s how it went:

Me:  love it! Not sure where you found that actress, but she NAILED it. I’ve been on a binge of watching these “T” contest entries (unfortunately, discovered it after voting closed) since I found the movie’s site last night, and yours really stands out. Will feature it on my blog. Guess I’ll have to tell people who are too scared to watch it that it has a happy ending…

mfoul2422: Thank you so much for the kind words! I would definitely appreciate you featuring the film on your blog and I’m so glad you enjoyed the film. I found the young actress Ashley when she auditioned for one of my earlier shorts. Even though I ended up going with another little girl, I remembered Ashley and when this came up I gave her a call and asked her to come in for it. I thought she would be great for it and she was. Thanks for watching and posting it on your blog. It really means a lot!

So, a cool horror short with story, scares, and a little gore, plus a really cool director who’s clearly a horror fan himself? This deserves a look, and it’s less than five minutes (plus, I put up the HD version). It’s still got the top ranking on my list  (an official actual list is coming in a post soon) for the “T” entries in the competition entries.  Check it out!

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The Trailer Beats the Movie- Rubber (2011)

I’m guessing the title is pretty self-explanatory.  I’ve seen plenty of trailers that got me pumped, then after watching the movie, realized I should have quit while I was ahead.*

So, I’ll kick this new category off with a trailer that I can confidently say is better than the movie. I wanted to like this movie …instead, I was not just let down (my expectations weren’t all that high in the first place, but enough so I figured it was worth a rental) but the suppressed rage made me go to IMDB just to let off some steam by giving it a terrible review**. Not even going to  tell myself I wrote it to warn off other viewers, I was just actively angry. Maybe 5% of my motivation was compassion for possible viewers/fellow fans. The rest was just to try to write the anger away (which did actually help).

Did you get insulted by the appearance of the rat at the end of The Departed (like everyone else I’ve talked to, even the ones who are not big movie geeks)? Then BEWARE this shit-bomb. Imagine if the rest of The Departed that preceded the insulting rat was NOT entertaining, well-acted, well-written, well-directed and cool enough that you let that insult to your intelligence go.

Even if you don’t find yourself especially entertained by the trailer, it’s a much more fun, satisfying experience than sitting through the pretentious garbage that is Rubber. Oh, and it contains almost all the gore from the movie, too, so there you go.

Here’s the Red Band trailer…

And here’s an expanded version of the not-too-popular review I wrote on IMDB!  I noticed from the trailer that it opened in theaters on April Fool’s Day, which is ironic, since …yeah. (I’m sure you can easily fill in the blank there).

Not Funny, Not Scary, Not Entertaining, Just …No.

First,  I am VERY glad I watched this as a ‘New Release’ rental. Several months ago, it was ‘premiered’ On Demand, and the price to watch it was $9.99. Fortunately, with our low budget, I couldn’t justify the expense just because Rubber was featured in Fangoria magazine. I wish it had been a .99 cent rental, because that’s what it’s worth, TOPS. If I had paid that $10 to see this movie, I would have been enraged at myself and my stupid mistake, then tried to figure out a way to get the price refunded. 

If I’d seen this for free, it wouldn’t have been worth it.

I’ve never said this in a review before, but I want the 90 minutes of my life back that I wasted watching this VERY over-rated flick. I got a bad feeling very early on when a character (the most irritating one in the entire movie, turns out) breaks the fourth wall within a minute tops of the start. Now, a decent script, or premise can pull this off. Not here, the movie is way too in love with itself. “Why is the alien in ET brown? No reason.” Then with each example given (“Why do the two main characters in Love Story fall madly in love? No reason”) I got increasingly worried we’d wasted a rental, but also started getting insulted. Then, in a very condescending way, he points out that all good movies must have an element of NO REASON. I am capitalizing that it due to the fact it got shoved down our throats over and over his whole monologue …in less than three minutes I was sick of it and sighed, oh, fuck you under my breath (in case my husband was actually enjoying it for some reason and I didn’t want to ruin it if so), on the final one.

Whup! Time out. Uh, dude, I hate to break it to you, but you’re not exactly Tarantino (who can come off as arrogant during interviews, but has also earned it to an extent) giving a lecture to film students. After he establishes the fact that we’re all fucking morons, he says this ‘film’ is an homage to that crucial element of NO REASON. Believe it or not, the film manages to become more insulting as it slooowly plays out. There’s no need for me to give you examples–not because of spoilers (it’s already spoiled stinking rotten, trust me) but out of courtesy to anyone reading this. It wasn’t worth wasting the paper to print the screenplay, definitely not worth repeating.

 Here’s an example, though. Did you get insulted by the appearance of the rat at the end of The Departed (like everyone else I’ve talked to, even the ones who are not big movie geeks)? Then BEWARE this bomb. Imagine if the rest of The Departed that preceded the insulting rat was NOT entertaining, well-acted, well-written, well-directed and cool enough that you let that insult to your intelligence go.

The makers of Rubber might as well have flashed messages every five minutes or a non-stop teletype in huge letters reading LOOK HOW UNEXPECTED AND QUIRKY WE ARE! ARE YOU SMART ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND THE GENIUS OF THIS? PROBABLY NOT, BUT WE SURE AS HELL DON’T CARE EITHER WAY, THAT’S HOW COOL WE ARE!  The only semblance of a plot in this movie is already given in whatever the sentence or two on the box pitching it to you is: for no apparent reason, a tire with the ability to make things (mostly human heads) explode goes on a killing spree. By the way, that summary is much more entertaining than the actual movie.

They also had the nerve to brag, on a DVD featurette, that Rubber is also an homage to the grind house movies of the 70s. First, no. No. NO no-no-no-no. Second, I know what a good, fun grind-house tribute looks like: Planet Terror, Machete, and Hobo With a Shotgun are a few. Thirdly, grind-house tribute movies do not feature crystal-clear, hi-def quality, and the shots in them are not composed in a deliberately artsy, avant-garde style.*** As far as good, fun-to-watch movies with unexplained elements that are hard to second guess: Nowhere, Storytelling, and the original Feast are a few who do it MUCH better. Take 15 minutes of any of the above movies I named, watch and enjoy, because even the weakest 15 minutes of these are still better than the entire running time of Rubber.

If 90% of a movie deliberately makes no sense, then whoever is responsible better fucking make sure that said movie is very good, and worth seeing. By the end of the first act– woop, wait, this movie doesn’t have discernible acts! It’s too edgy and KA-RAZY for such structure! By the end of, I’ll say, the first twenty minutes (tops) I said out loud, “OK, now you’re not even fucking trying.”

If you’re curious what the 3/10 stars I gave it are for (actually, while writing this review, I decided I was being too generous and wished I could knock it back to two stars) then here it is. One for supporting indie films (in general, not this one), another for some pretty well-done gore (no obvious CGI), then I break the third down into parts: cool title ****, good and occasionally amusing puppetry of Robert the killer tire, decent enough art direction, and…uh… I guess that’s it, round it up to 3!  Hacks.

Just in case you’re still tempted to watch Rubber (God knows why), here’s seven reasons for the remaining seven stars I did NOT give it:

  •  a half-decent premise that goes absolutely fucking nowhere
  •   trying to pass off sloppy writing as deliberate non-conformance and ultra-cool rule-breaking
  • deliberately random events (and dialog), painfully contrived, to make the movie seem edgy
  • clumsy breaking of the fourth wall
  •  not even pretending to attempt any semblance of characterization
  •  a slow pace that never pays off, ever
  • clearly, the “creators” of Rubber either know nothing about story telling, suspense building, and climax–or worse yet, they do, but instead preferred to be self-righteous elitist hipster douchebags and made a deliberate choice to not include any of it. Either learn the basics or just STOP THAT. Stop it!

However, the prevalent condescending, tone (Hey! Assholes! We’re already renting a non-mainstream movie, independently released, so how about deciding we are all not necessarily virgins to a non-traditional format) ranging from mildly irritating to really insulting, is still by far #1 on my Rubber Shit List, though. 

I sat through the whole thing because I thought it might be worth taking a chance on. Please, learn from my mistake! Life’s already short and there’s too many GOOD indie movies (and mainstream too, now that I think of it) worth your time to watch instead.

Want some suggestions? Drop me a line or post a comment.

*And you probably have, too. Feel free to send your personal picks!

**furthermore, I am apparently not the only viewer to do so. The same aspects pissed them off that pissed me off. That’s actually positive to discover.

*** And they have fun, really cool titles (not ones contrived to be cool) that make it clear what the movie is about, and that the movie is going to be a love letter –or lust-letter– to grind-house movies. Hobo With a Shotgun –any questions?

****I changed my mind.