In my day (warbles the ancient reviewer) horror was simple to classify. You had ghost stories. Creature features. And, of course, Slashers. Ah – the good ole days. * Now things have gotten more varied. Found footage. Torture porn of every shape and size. Hostel. Saw. Every Wayan’s spoof ever made (now that’s real torture, folks!) As a horror subgenre, sadism can be tricky. It’s easy to write. And very easy to get wrong. Audiences will inevitably cringe when characters are threatened. But one slip of the keys, and a psychologically effective script can easily descend into mindless sadism… usually tinged with misogyny. Teaching With Violence is one script that treads the thin line successfully. Yet doesn’t lose its shock value.
A simple premise, TWV follows bartender Sarah as she closes up for the night. Before leaving, waitress Emily drops off a cell phone left behind by a careless customer. She offers her friend a ride home – but Sarah’s waiting for her boyfriend. Left alone in the bar, Sarah idly browses the phone’s picture gallery – and finds horrifying photos. Next thing she knows, a man arrives at the door looking for the phone. Sarah lies and says it’s not there; but he spots the phone on the bar. And can easily guess what she saw. Sarah calls 911 – but the man’s already broken in… Will Sarah survive the ordeal that follows? What does the stranger want, anyway?
Straightforward and shot in one location, TWV lives up to its name. It’s violent. But it teaches a valuable lesson: that brutality can work in short films. When handled intelligently.
* Just to clarify… we’re talkin’ 80s here. Don’t put the STS staff in Depends yet. (Unless you’re kinky that way.)
About the writer: Our very own James Williams (IMDB credits here.) With both shorts and features to his name, James is perhaps best known for the So Pretty vampire trilogy of shorts – the third installment now in production!
Budget: Very low budget. Only two main characters, and two supporting characters (three, if you consider a boyfriend lying on a couch support.) Oh – and one setting. A bar. Doesn’t get simpler than that.
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