Have you ever felt like hitting a Girl Scout with a baseball bat? Well, I hope not. But what if underneath that sweet and innocent face and that pea-soup green beret was a murderous extraterrestrial with green ooze coursing through their veins, as they force-feed their irresistible, but mind-controlling, cookies down the throats of unsuspecting suburbanites? Then I think you wouldn’t hesitate to swing that bat. And that’s exactly how we start off with Patrick Rea’s short “Get Off My Porch” in the third installment of Hillbilly Horror Show (HHS) starring our friends Lulu (Rachel Faulkner), Bo (Bo Keister), and Cephus (Scott Geiter).
Following Rea’s predictable but enjoyable enough short, we are then taken by our redneck guides to the home of a spiritual medium Audra McComb (played by horror veteran Lynn Lowry) in JT Seaton’s “Divination”. There is little back story, but an exterior establishing shot is accompanied by an audio track of crickets chirping which makes me believe that we are in the South – that and McComb’s deliciously put-on Southern accent. But don’t be fooled by Ms. McComb’s quirky, spiritual grandmother artifice. She has been a very naughty girl and a mysterious visitor (Anne Postell) will teach her not to piss off the spiritual realm!
Next we have Kyle Hytonen’s short “Follow” which is basically a condensed version of The Blair Witch Project minus the scares and good acting and originality. There’s not much to say about this short. It’s a couple in the woods and some shaky camera and some made-up ghost story and some running around the woods at night. Pretty standard stuff.
And lastly we have the odd, music video-esque short “Moderngrumble” by director Toby Venable. The short is weird and gruesome little coming of age story that reminds me a bit of queer filmmaker and activist Bruce LaBruce’s L.A. Zombie – minus the gay pornography. Venable’s end product with “Moderngrumble” is a tender, albeit grotesque, story about life on the fringe of society.
All-in-all, I can’t help but feeling a bit disappointed with HIllbilly Horror Show Vol. 3. I had high hopes for this installment after the success of the previous volume which featured some great shorts. The shorts in this episode were not terrible by any means. They had their moments of success. There were some grisly deaths and even some laughs. But at the end of the day, the shorts were merely adequate, nothing more, nothing less. HHS has become a platform for low-budget, indie horror filmmakers. It should be pushing boundaries and advocating for films that have high goals, even if they don’t always succeed in attaining those goals. They should include films that make people laugh, make people cringe, make people pissed off, make people feel something at least. I would rather watch a movie that set high aspirations for itself and failed than a movie than kept itself in the space of safety. Push the boundaries! Take some risks! That’s what the independent film community is about. Now get to work!
Review: Alex Schultz