Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
FIOFF ’15 Submissions to Die For: Timothy Hall’s “THE STUDIO”Fearful Features,Home,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley No Comment
Welcome to SUBMISSIONS TO DIE FOR, the latest column focusing on highlights among the FANGORIA International Online Film Festival Submissions. While being featured on this column does not guarantee selection in the FANGORIA International Online Film Festival, SUBMISSIONS TO DIE FOR features some scare fare worth keeping an eye on…
Occasionally, crafting a short film can be narratively similar to telling a joke. Sometimes, you get something short and sweet, with a quick set-up, pay-off and the clever premise occasionally doesn’t even hit you until after the fact. Other times, you get an long but worthwhile anecdote, intriguing you with a festive set-up for a length of time only to tie it all together in a satisfying finale. And then sometimes you get shaggy dog stories, misdirecting the audience in order to throw them off-balance of an intentionally anti-climactic delivery.
While Timothy Hall’s THE STUDIO is far better than a shaggy dog story, there’s much on display to throw the audience, whether it be the intricate shifts in camerawork at times to the incredibly foreboding mystery at hand. THE STUDIO tells the story of a man at a garage sale who discovers a gorgeous painting underneath a shattered frame containing a map, and feeling compelled, he tracks down the painting’s origin and its mysterious artist. And while one might expect THE STUDIO to go into a much more generic, MISERY-esque ending, Hall instead bets on ambiguity and unsettling imagery, all of which makes for a unique tale of terror.
Anchored by a pair of performances from the incredibly ominous Jodi Walter and an engagingly naturalistic David McCollouch, THE STUDIO also benefits from having a very strong crew at its reign. Particularly, a strong art direction and a decision to experiment with the visuals help elevate THE STUDIO beyond other shorts of its ilk, and there’s one particularly horrific reveal that is so well timed and unexpected that it almost makes up for the anti-climactic ending that nearly immediately follows it. But THE STUDIO is both interesting, scary and oddly hypnotic, and Hall nails the proper atmosphere for each of those elements with striking efficiency.
THE STUDIO is also incredibly old-fashioned, and given a more contemplative ending, could be in the same vein as THE TWILIGHT ZONE, TALES FROM THE CRYPT or perhaps an exceptional entry in an anthology tale. There’s something so universal about the search for something beautiful and mysterious that could excuse even the darkest logic lapses and believe you me, ardent fright fans might be yelling at the screen with THE STUDIO’s ignorance of social etiquette when it comes to discovery of blood or foreshadowing. But Hall sticks with THE STUDIO’s petrifying premise from beginning to end, and makes this writer even more interested to see what the fright filmmaker has next up his sleeve.
For more information on the FANGORIA International Online Film Festival, you can visit the fest’s official website HERE.