In recent years, watching 31 or more horror films throughout the month of October has since become quite the fad amongst the more genre oriented cinephiles. Strangely enough, it’s a trend that most of us are actually pretty pleased to see finally catching on with the majority. There’s never been anything wrong with getting great work seen in droves. Personally, I love being able to look back once my own annual list has been completed. Pondering and analyzing all that I’ve seen, having discovered new favorites in the process. This year was no different… Other than the fact that there was one film in particular that’s just stuck with me for a while now. A film that somehow summed up everything I enjoy and find familiar about the Halloween season itself. Not just that, but a film that just so happened to be a mere 11 minutes in length. A large feat found in such a deceptively small package.
Shant Hamassian’s Night of the Slasher was a short film I had been excited to see for months. Ever since I first caught wind of its existence via the festival circuit, I knew it was something I needed to experience via an eventual So-Cal screening. With Miguel Rodriguez’s Horrible Imaginings Film Festival coming to the rescue in that regard, I am now able to discuss something that simply won’t exit my brain, 60 days post-viewing. From the moment the short opens, we are instantly tossed into a world that chooses to exhibit the familiar, as much as it does the equivocating. With our heroine(Lily Berlina)providing us with a scantily clad dance number as the film’s introductory sentence, the presentation is already met with many questions. Questions all soon to be answered though, nonetheless. The abrupt entrance of a confused hipster(Scott Javore), who’s current disposition perfectly mirrors that of the audience’s, the narrative’s impressive speed shows zero signs of potential falter. Four Beers later and one strange checklist hinting at the existence of an unforeseen agenda, everything seems to be going as planned for the sake of horror culture, at its most pure. Alas, the word “seems” is swiftly erased from all context once the(embarrassingly impotent)sex scene commences.
It is now that the audience has realized two specific things. 1. – Our protagonist’s predictable actions have all been meticulously executed in an attempt to lure in a masked killer. And 2. – The camera has not stopped to cut yet. Not even once. Any film produced to mimic the idea of a one take(as we can’t all be Victoria)is a true feat to behold for any audience member. But augmenting this trait during a brutally choreographed showdown between Slasher and Final Girl is enough to make any horror fan’s heart sing like a true Castrato. The short is not only a spectacle to witness, but its an experiment that works on all ends as well. A film that has, as many before me have put it, reinvented and repackaged the meta-horror genre as a whole. By repurposing the tropes of horror movie culture into physical plot points, as well as taking shots at itself through some very transparent strings of dialogue, Hamassian presents a film that works more as a blueprint for the slasher flick than it does as a contemporary slasher flick in itself. If that last sentence did not bestow the correct summarization I had intended, please try this instead; Hamassian has invented space-age technology that captures all the excitement, humor and chills of a slasher movie and condenses them all into one 10-minute work of art.
To close, this little movie let’s you experience all the emotions you would during a feature length film of the same nature. The meta-film has become quite the specialty in recent years. It’s been a driving force used to improve the genre’s narrative, explain plot holes and create discussion amongst the community like no style before it. With films like Last Girl Standing having entered the scene this year, the idea of exploring the final girl’s life, post-slasher encounter, has proven to be quite the rewarding character study. The result being a much more accessible look into the symptoms and sorrows of PTSD sufferers. Visually however, the filmmaker has now shown us that we can take this concept, while combining the build up and climax into one swift burst of kinetic energy. An idea that should never work this damn well. With an ending that allows for future installments(not to mention the director hinting at a possible feature length adaptation), we just may have a true Batman/Joker rivalry on our hands here. One the genre hasn’t seen since the days of Myers vs Loomis. What a breath of fresh air that would be. But until then, check out the original Oscar™ Qualifying, Vimeo Staff Pick(as well as a most beautiful tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy)below.
– The Spork Guy