THE SCARLET VULTURES
Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Red Razor Pictures and Writer/Director, Kyle Martellacci (Candy Skin) for allowing me early access to an online screener of his 14-minute experimental Horror/Thriller short “The Scarlet Vultures”. Evelyn (played by Anne-Carolyne Binette) is a young woman dealing with the loss of her mother while battling with primitive desires that stem from an unknown source. Moments of unadulterated rhapsody here and there become a catalyst for her ascension among a coven which is led by Mater (Astrida Auza). The film also stars Fabio Ricci.
Martellacci is a Canadian filmmaker whose notched up almost a dozen short films in relatively quick succession, working primarily within the horror genre. His latest film is heavy on the imagery, in turn injecting a sense of body horror into the mix rather than sticking with a conventional narrative. Kyle’s behind the sharpy cinematography on display in The Scarlet Vultures. Mysterious tones in the score consolidating with nice blues and backlit reds in the lighting help give this an otherworldly dreamscape feel similar to that of Argento (Suspiria) or even some of Lynch and Cronenberg’s films. Though by the same token, heavy-handed artificial light can have you questioning the rationale behind it. Everything is pretty nicely framed and the audio track is crystal clear. The acting is serviceable without requiring the cast to go to any great lengths to portray their respective characters. Michael Pennington’s makeup work is quite good and there are a few moments where practical blood and gore are displayed.
Matthew Rees score certainly isn’t a bad one but I, myself, found it a bit monotonous. That, and it was simply too loud in the mix. So much so that I had to strain to hear Binette’s opening interaction with Auza. I would’ve liked to have seen better pacing in regard to Evelyn’s story arc as well. Our first look at her in the real world comes right in the midst of a reception following her mother’s death, and it’s brief at that. There is a separate Evelyn/Mater thread that Martellacci cites throughout, but no actual transitional period or obligatory freak out moment on behalf of Evelyn. The dialogue itself is rather stale, and because the depths of Evelyn’s psyche aren’t capable of truly being delved into in the space of such a short running time, we’re not left with all that much other than some eye-catching aesthetics.
The Scarlet Vultures is a polished and independently made short from up and coming filmmaker Kyle Martellacci. The production values are high, the sound is good, and in addition to directing the film, he does a very nice job with the cinematography. There are a few memorable visuals with intense lighting, and the use of practical blood and gore is always a positive. The downsides here are that the score is rather one-note and too loud in the mix. Evelyn could have made for a much more interesting character if she had some sort of identity, or the audience felt like they were with her for the stages of metamorphosis. Unfortunately, the dialogue isn’t engaging enough to really cover that drawback, however, I still think this is a good example of Kyle improving his technical craft. So if you consider yourself a fan of the Avant-garde you might get a little more out of The Scarlet Vultures than I could. Check out the teaser trailer below!
My rating for “The Scarlet Vultures” is 5.5/10