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Saturday, 24 October 2009

Aaaaagh! A Monster! (2009)

Director: Gabriel Renfro
Stars: Joel Sappington

Steve is being chased from moment one but he does make it home, at least someone's home, because it isn't his. 'There's a monster coming after me and it's going to kill us all,' he tells the throng assembled in front of the TV and naturally they ignore him, even after he locks himself in their bathroom. And here we discover that he isn't kidding. As the monster arrives and begins to massacre everyone in the house except him, he sneaks a peek around the bathroom door with its map of the human digestion system on the back. Sure enough, it isn't safe even here.

Writer/director Gabriel Renfro, a film student at the University of Southern California, only has six minutes to make this film work and he proves to be an imaginative man, giving us nice little hints at what's going on without actually showing us, hints that involve lots of blood and guts, this being a horror short in case you hadn't worked that out from the review thus far. Almost the entire film is spent inside one bathroom watching one man try to escape, which is hardly an easy feat given that all the cool stuff is happening on the other side of the door. He does leave it eventually, so the effects guys get their chance to strut their stuff, but only to set up the finale. I won't spoil this ending, which is a peach, but it seems to have been written about my idiot stepson number one. I wonder how I didn't hear about it until now.

As a film student, obviously Renfro hasn't much of a body of work behind him, but he's starting off on the right foot. His other credit as a filmmaker is Nora Breaks Free, which he wrote and directed in 2006. This looks intriguing, given that it's 27 minutes long and has a much bigger cast that includes Doug Jones, a superb actor who seems to rarely appears outside of seriously inventive makeup so we wouldn't recognise him if he walked up and said hi. Think Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movies, the faun in Pan's Labyrinth and the title character in 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Maybe he's more recognisable as himself in Renfro's short.

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