Pages

Friday, May 15, 2015

Spine Chillers' Lynchian "Spoon Dog" Serves Up Piping Hot Surreal Horror

"SPOON DOG" (2015)
Genre: Surreal Horror
Length- 11:11
Company: Atreides Media, LLC
Website: Official

A man (Christopher Dinnan) -- some call him Spoon Dog -- drives alone, with no memory of the last few hours.  He doesn't know where the duffle bag came from, or how it ended up on the passenger seat beside him, overflowing with stacks of green bills.

And he certainly doesn't know whose blood covers his hands . . .

THE PROOF'S IN THE LEMONADE

"Spoon Dog" is the latest episode of Spine Chillers, a horror web series initiated by Tres Hombres Productions -- Josh Becker, Paul Harris, and Dinnan himself.  After an extremely lackluster opening ("Sorry I Couldn't Make It"), short films from Dinnan and Harris ("Frontier Style" and "Roadkill", respectively) showed real improvement and were both enjoyable entries.

I'm pleased to report that Dinnan's latest, "Spoon Dog", builds on everything positive in the previous episodes and introduces a strong David Lynch / Jacob's Ladder-era Adrian Lyne element.  Under Dinnan's watchful eye (he writes, directs, edits and stars), we have the first Spine Chillers episode that's actually unnerving.  Seemingly random snippets of wild eyed imagery merge with carefully produced audio and produce a dark and, at times, humorous undercurrent that overrides any  negative effects incurred by the extremely low budget and at times painfully clunky dialogue.

DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE

The events onscreen alternate between downright disturbing to perplexing to bleakly humorous (lemonade, anyone?) which fragments the audience's experience even further.  We're already once removed from Spoon Dog's adventure, seeing as how we are not him, but now there's an added removal as we attempt to discern what we're supposed to feel about what we're seeing. 

Where this film is at its best is when what we're supposed to feel isn't what we really feel.  It's moments like these that are so weirdly disjointed and phantasmic, something like the cinematic equivalent of watching a taped recording of an out-of-body experience.

One final note: "Spoon Dog" is the first Spine Chillers episode that is looking to play a few festivals.  When that is finished, it will see release on an eventual DVD.  I'll post more information as soon as I hear it!

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3 / 5.  "Spoon Dog" plays with your mind.  The events that unfold are paced in such a way as to inspire suspense and dread, and it all works.  On the negative side of the coin, there is way too much dialogue for Spoon Dog, particularly in the first few minutes.  He doesn't know anything, so 95% of what he says is something to the effect of, "What's going on?  I don't know what's going on!" and it gets old fast.
Directing: 3.5 / 5.  Dinnan pulls out all the stops here, and puts on his most varied and entertaining turn behind the camera yet.  With the help of Director of Photography Bruce Schermer, "Spoon Dog" features surprisingly rewarding imagery.  I loved the cocked angles and the camera movement, which never felt like true handheld but stayed fluid, giving the action a woozy effect.
Editing: 4 / 5.  This sort of film might look OK on paper and the directing might be solid, but the editing room is where it either shines or fails.  In the case of "Spoon Dog", the editing is insane -- we see flashes of scenes yet to come, disturbing images overlaid over Dinnan's horrified expression, electric light flashes and more.  It not only keeps the visuals interesting, it adds to the audience's experience of Spoon Dog's descent into madness.
Sound/Music: 3.5 / 5.  Daryl Rosenblatt wrote the score here, and without question everything he has here is far better than the silly rock and roll Spine Chillers theme.  I liked the electronica and ambient noise of some of the darker moments.  The sound design as a whole was inspired, if a little low tech.  Volume levels and ambient noise varied from shot to shot.
Acting: 2.5 / 5.  Dinnan's hysterics in the beginning feel inauthentic -- part of that is the fact that he's bogged down by an excessive amount of one-sided dialogue.  As the film goes on, his performance becomes more real.  Paul Harris does well as the Head in the Bag, and it's nice to see that Robert J. Gordinier (from "Roadkill") pops up again -- in an awesome rabbit costume, to boot!  Series regular Carol Ilku delivers her handful of lines with typical aplomb and is Spine Chillers' most consistent thespian.

Final Grade: 3.3 / 5.

Don't forget to check out Spine Chillers on the Internet and follow writer/director/editor/actor (whew!)  Christopher Dinnan on Facebook!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!