THE BABYFACE KILLER
Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Co-Writer/Director, Matthew Forte for sending me the link to his latest online Horror short, “The Babyface Killer”. The Babyface Killer is a 13 minute, micro-budget short that follows young couple and soon to be parents, Mark and Katherine (played by Vic Varriale and Xiomara Forman) as they deal with the sudden loss of an unborn child. This tragedy sets Mark off on a dark path where a further series of events ultimately destroys the life he once had. The film also stars Juliet Picard, Margaret Scura and Matt Bruzio. It’s never a bad thing to stumble across new creative types currently working in the independent film industry. What’s better though are those rare individuals who can take criticism on board with the hopes of further developing their craft.
Being a slasher-type affair, albeit amidst a heavy psychological layer, The Babyface Killer does have some positive practical effects work (considering the pocket change with which this thing was made). The blood consistency looks alright, so to the killer’s mask, even if it was just a cheaply made prop from the local dollar store. The only real highlight of on-screen carnage sees a particularly nasty disembowelment with a greater purpose behind it. The stomach latex looks awfully fake but the kill itself is fun, so I give Forte credit for simply committing it to screen, especially when you take into account the budget constraints. On the flip side, the set piece is clearly fake and so that takes away from the harsh severity of the action. The only two positive scenes of acting I could find both involved female characters crying. Katherine has a scene in the opening five minutes where she’s quite good and Picard features in the film’s climax.
I mostly have myself to blame for this one and as hard as I tried to get into The Babyface Killer, I just couldn’t. Putting aside the rather non-sensical basis for Mark’s killings (which I guess I can swallow in the context of a slasher film), I couldn’t look past the countless technical shortcomings involved in the film making process. Forte Films Entertainment have made a few shorts now, so I honestly expected a fair bit better execution despite the small budget (which I’d estimate at only $500 to $1,000). The audio takes the cake for the worst aspect. The dialogue levels aren’t too bad, but during the external scene with the neighbor there’s a lot of traffic noise in the background. That, and anytime the conversation or its delivery rises in intensity, the volume constantly peaks out. The multiple screams that can be heard may actually cause your ears to bleed. Having worked on a couple of shorts myself, I understand the difficulties of contending with background noise and other issues that might be out of your control, but if they opted to use an onboard mic from the camera that would explain why this happened. Forte’s cinematography and editing aren’t really up to standard. I can let the handheld style of camera work slide due to the budget, but the constant lapses in focus across almost the entire 13 minutes make it hard to watch. The natural light left seeping into the frame during scenes in the house with Mark and Katherine isn’t a good look either. The entire edit feels jarring, Forte could have omitted the silly dream sequence and the scene where Mark is rude to the neighbor (Scura) considering it had no real context. As it stands, the 13 minutes feel sluggish. Unfortunately, I didn’t think any of the performances were any good, though some of the writing didn’t help that.
I wanted to like The Babyface Killer, I’d heard some good things about it and so I wanted to check it out. In hindsight, Forte was up against it right from the outset. Sadly it wasn’t what I was expecting from a technical point of view or a story telling facet. I think the DIY (do it yourself) effects have a certain charm about them and the mask is kind of cool. Both Forman and Picard have emotional scenes that they meet accordingly with above par performances. The pitchy sound killed it for me though, it was far too distracting. The camera work was amateurish especially with such poor focusing, and the lighting was harsh. I think the film could have been trimmed, and with better editing it wouldn’t have suffered quite so much. Even though this one wasn’t for me, I think with a bigger budget behind him and some more experienced heads, Matthew Forte and Co just might deliver on something a bit more professional next time around. If you do want to check the film out, you can do so at the link below!
My rating for “The Babyface Killer” is 2.5/10