Sunday 24 October 2010

The Furred Man (2010)

Director: Paul Williams
Star: Daniel Carter-Hope
This film was an official selection at the 6th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Tempe in 2010. Here's an index to my reviews of 2010 films.

The Furred Man won out over a stellar set of horror shorts at the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Tempe, which surprised me somewhat. It's a good film, make no mistake, but I don't think there's any doubt that the astounding Alice Jacobs is Dead was the cream of the crop this year. Like that film, this one doesn't restrict itself to one genre, setting itself up as a mystery and proceeding through horror, comedy and suspense, with capable bookends and good acting. What may be its greatest success comes through the realisation that it does a huge amount with what is really not much at all. I'm not talking about the script, I'm talking about sets and props. There's a room, a tent and a sign, but that's about it until you add the actors, the story and some superb costumes by Rebecca Thomas. To make a good film you need to start with a good story because effects can only divert us for so long. This one plays out like a classic short story.

The setup is enticing. We see a man in a werewolf costume, a good one that's covered in blood. His gloves are still on, but his mask is off. He's Max Naughton and he's being interviewed by the cops because he woke up with a couple of corpses and a black eye, uttering the words, 'Oh my God! It's all my fault!' What follows is his explanation, with appropriate flashbacks, and the twist that leads us to a magnificent ending. Daniel Carter-Hope's joyous sense of bewilderment as Max underpins the entire film. 'I can explain!' he suggests, because he's stuck in that classic trap of irony where the only way out is to tell the truth but where telling the truth is the surest way to be disbelieved. Writer/director Paul Williams has described the film as 'an Ealing comedy at its darkest mixed with Hammer Horror at its most horrific' and it's the dark comedy that sticks, that and the costumes. The effects work is accomplished but restricted to a few scenes.
It's all accomplished stuff, from a team who have worked together over a decade on short films that haven't yet made it to IMDb for the wonderfully named Evil Hypnotist Productions. Working strictly from credits there, nobody involved seems to have much experience, except effects tech Jon Moore, who has a string of high profile projects to his name, from Doctor Who to the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Williams and Carter-Hope only have one other credit at IMDb, for a 2006 feature called The Wake, but even the slightest glimpse at the Evil Hypnotist website suggests that these folks have done a heck of a lot more and I should explore. I can only see two downsides to this movie. One is that while the story unfolds well, once it gets moving it's not too difficult to figure out where it will end. The other is that the clever title isn't backed up by a clever reference. Either that or I just missed it. It's hard to get a zither into a UK horror short.

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