Painkiller, The Minions, Berenice (Review)

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PAINKILLER

THE SETUP

“Painkiller” is the first, of director Jeremiah Kipp’s short films that I will be reviewing. Firstly I just want to say thanks to Jeremiah, for sending me a bunch of his work to review, I really appreciate it. Painkiller is a 15 minute short film about two scientists that are developing an organism that thrives on suffering, but counteracts the pain in terminally ill patients and turns it into pleasure. This way, the dying can spend their remaining time pain-free. Without proper testing something goes seriously wrong during the trial. The film stars Kelly Legault, Thomas Mendolia, Jill Donato and Jerry Janda.

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THE GOOD

The film was shot for an estimated $15,000, and it looks and sounds great. Jeremiah has a lot of experience making short films, and that’s obvious with the structure of this one. The dialogue audio is crystal clear, and the sound effects in each scene compliment the overall tone. The suspense score is intense and creepy as well. He’s chosen a lot of really clever shots. The camera work in general is beautiful, very smooth and precise. The edit was really well cut together, and the story lays nearly everything out for you. I like that it was told from the Male scientists point of view. He explains to the mystery man investigating what went wrong, what the process was supposed to do and where it went wrong. Thomas and Jerry have the most screen time, and both of them do such a good job. I really like Thomas in particular, he seems like a natural.

THE BAD

In just 15 minutes, Jeremiah really doesn’t have much time to put a foot wrong. My only technical criticism was a few of those Giallo, cross noir tilt angles that were used in a few shots, I’m really not a fan of those. The mystery man’s motive wasn’t very clear either. I know it’s probably part of the mystery (haha), but I just wanted to know a little more how he fit into the situation. If I learnt one thing from Painkiller it’s, don’t put yourself out there as a guinea pig especially if you’re not sick. I would liked to have seen that whole plot point written in a different way. Maybe somebody else inserts the organism in her, or there’s an accident that causes it. Anything different, the way it unfolded wasn’t that realistic.

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Painkiller is so professionally put together. Jeremiah shows a true grasp of the technical know how, as well as conjuring a wonderful, all be it disturbing body/horror short film. I can’t recommend this one enough guys

My rating for “Painkiller” is 8/10

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THE MINIONS

THE SETUP

“The Minions” (not the cute yellow guys from “Despicable Me” haha), is another 11 minute short film from Director, Jeremiah Kipp. It’s a Horror/Mystery that centers on William (Lukas Hassel), as he stands in an apartment with the unseen Abigail (played by Lauren Fox), discussing a witches path. Shortly after, William leaves and crosses paths with two drunk girls named Sarah and Katrina (Christina Doikos and Robin Singer). He volunteers to walk them back to their apartment, it’s there where the girls start acting very strange as does William, and then things take a turn for the worse.

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THE GOOD

This 11 minute short film was made for a little over $6,000. It’s got a very surreal feel about it, which makes the structure and plot details a little hazy at times. It opens with an amazing heavy bass, and synth orientated score that sounds great. Once again, the audio track is nice and clear and the camera work is mostly well done. I noticed a few irrelevant shots, but for the most part it sets the tone appropriately. I thought the acting from Lukas was probably the highlight of the film. The female cast is all very good too, but I started getting annoyed with the Katrina character, because she spent most of the time in a hysterical drunken haze and that’s not for me (haha).

THE BAD

After the introduction the score changes up, giving it an odd science fiction sound. I found the music they used early on helped with the mystery in generating the suspense, the rest of the music kind of lost me. Most of the scenes in the apartment are lit with small amounts of natural light which is fine. But a few times, they were really bright and became distracting. I think the story should have unfolded as more of an internal struggle with William, told through the dialogue. It would have made the ending a lot less predictable. I was almost sure things would unfold exactly how they did, despite the mysterious nature of the whole thing.

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The Minions had a lack of clarity within the narrative. I wasn’t drawn into the film’s world, and therefore I felt this one was a bit of a let down. Technically it’s pretty good, and I loved that intro theme, along with the performances, but I’m still trying to figure out the purpose of it all.

My rating for “The Minions” is 6.5/10

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BERENICE

THE SETUP

“Berenice” is a 19 minute short of Jeremiah Kipp’s, that I had the pleasure of watching. It’s part of an anthology film called “Creepers”. I’m only reviewing the one short and not the entire DVD. Berenice is about an elusive and strange girl named Berenice (played by Cheryl Koski), who comes to New York to stay with, long-lost friend Edward (Thomas Mendolia), and his parents. The two got together briefly years before, and now have a very complicated history, compounded even more by Berenice’s sudden illness.

THE GOOD

I’ve never really been a fan of Edgar Allan Poe’s work, and most of the film adaptions I have seen of his were pretty poor, so going in I didn’t have high hopes for this one. Technically, I think this is Jeremiah’s best. I’m not sure of the total budget, but the production value here is truly impressive. The way this opens up with shots from the outside of the house, which then pan to the inside was gorgeous. All the shot choices and camera work are on point. Perfect audio once again too. It sounds like an easy thing to master but it’s really not, it requires a lot of time and editing. I knew this was going to be good when I saw that Thomas Mendolia was in the lead role again. This short is much better lit, and the suspenseful score was a great addition too. Some of the characters reactions and the full workings of the story weren’t that clear to begin with, but I picked up on a hint of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) from Edward, so that at least explained his odd behavior.

THE BAD

There’s a lot of different scenes in such a short space of time, almost a few to many. The editing appears rather frenzy in a few of those segments. Some sound effect details were missed as well. For example, Berenice starts convulsing at one point, and hits the ground without a sound effect to accompany it. Not to mention the very calm, and underplayed reaction from Edward about someone calling 911. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the mother and father either. They alluded to the fact that Edward had problems as well, but I couldn’t spot any warning signs so the ending really shocked me. I didn’t love it nor hate it, I just found it rather random, but entertaining none the less.

Berenice should be a how to guide, for people looking to get the basic fundamentals of film making right. Jeremiah hasn’t developed any bad habits, making him someone to keep an eye on in the future. Both Cheryl and Thomas’s performances are great, and this screenplay is a rather eerie one. It didn’t quite come together perfectly but I was still thoroughly entertained when all was said and done.

My rating for “Berenice” is 7.5/10

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