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Monday, September 14, 2015

Innovative Take on Zombies in Metafictional "Period Piece"

"PERIOD PIECE" (2014)
Genre: Horror / Comedy
Length- 11:50
Company:  I Shot This With My Friends Pictures

* This film contains scenes of graphic horror violence that may be too strong for young viewers.

Renee (Onalee James) and Kurt (Ernesto Griffith) bicker over how their latest film, a romance, should end.  Renee wants an old fashioned finish, where the two leads make up and kiss out their problems to soaring melodramatic music, while Kurt wants something that pursues something a bit more realistic.

But then their filming is interrupted by shooting  of a different kind: it sounds like a warzone just a mile distant, and the film crew is reminded of the terrible truth they live every day and that they are attempting to distract audiences of with their films.

Zombies.

TWISTING THE GENRE

"Period Piece" is an elaborate short film written and directed by James McLellan, and one of the few zombie films that actually stands on its own merits as a unique movie.  Rather than taking direct inspiration from George A. Romero's original Living Dead universe, these zombies are of the sprinting 2004 Dawn of the Dead variety.  But unlike that remake, which was thematically as dead as the zombies in the film, "Period Piece" has something interesting to say as well as being an entertaining bit of action filmmaking.

McLellan shoots "Period Piece" as a film within a film, a metafiction of a sort: his script considers what would happen to the filmmaking industry in the event of a world shattering event such as a zombie apocalypse.  What kind of stories would people in those situations tell?  What would those stories do for them?

Considering how saturated the movie business has become with zombies, it's nice to see that there's life yet for the undead.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3.5 / 5.  A clever idea, and it's a story that resonates, particularly with storytellers.  That being said, there was never a real sense of danger for the main characters, and never enough zombies to feel like they were much of a threat.  
Directing: 4 / 5.  Good movement for the camera, and an appropriate change of tone from "romance film" to horror action.    
Editing: 4  / 5.  The film was edited by McLellan, Brian Roach, Brad Crawford and Ryan Hanson.  I liked the way that the color correction applied the "cinematic" look for the film within the film, while the real world had a desaturated and gritty appearance.  The pacing was excellent as well.
Sound/Music: 3.5 / 5.  The original music, composed by Steven Webb, is effective and the dialogue and sound is recorded professionally.  I was not as big a fan however of the rock music over the action scene at the end.
Acting: 4 / 5.  Onalee James and Ernesto Griffith are the best thespians on display, and their performances are rock solid.  Jenny Pudavick is completely credible as the lawyer in the romance film, and Jason Wishnowski comes across OK as the cowboy.

Final Grade: 3.8 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Period Piece" and follow the creators 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!