Toronto Ontario’s Fatal Pictures takes solid production and directing, mixes it with superb acting, writing, and special FX, making short films that will blow your mind!
The foundation that Fatal Pictures is built upon consists of writer/director Richard Powell and producer Zach Green. When I’m traveling abroad, people often comment on how all Canadians are so nice. I think to myself “they must have met Zach and Richard“. Seriously folks, these two gentlemen are some of the kindest, most humble people I have met since becoming actively involved in the horror community. But don’t let their kind hearts fool you. These guys make disturbingly dark movies! The kind that get under your skin and fester like a staph infection.
Let’s discuss their “Box Cutter Trilogy” (“Worm“, “Familiar“, and “Heir“). If you can walk away from any one of these films without having it driven deep into your gray matter, you might want to book yourself a CAT scan. The only complaint I have ever heard about these three shorts is that people wish they were features.
I was affected so strongly by the second film in the trilogy, Familiar, that it was the first film I requested to screen when I created my shorts festival.
Wait, we are getting ahead of ourselves. The first film in the trilogy is Worm, starring the incomparable Robert Nolan (who plays the lead in all three films). Playing a high school teacher at his wit’s end, Nolan is forced to sink or swim by being the actor to carry every scene. Lucky for us, Robert has acting talent in spades. The majority of the film is narrated by Nolan, giving us an intimate portrait of a true psychopath, who may or may not be planning to kidnap his ‘favorite’ student. One peek inside this teacher’s briefcase (a seriously demented set piece that I was lucky enough to check out in person) is enough to realize this isn’t the man you want in charge of a classroom. I have been assured by Powell that there is more to Worm than what is shown in the short film. Fatal Pictures is hoping to turn it into a full length feature, so keep your fingers crossed.
Next up in the trilogy is the critically acclaimed Familiar. Robert Nolan once again shines in the lead role as a man that has had enough. Enough of his job. Enough of his kid. Most of all, enough of his wife. With their only child about to enter adulthood, this middle aged man plans an escape. Unfortunately, fate throws a big nasty monkey wrench into his plans, but he is going to fight back this time. Normally a mild mannered pushover, has he finally grown a pair of cajones, or is it something much more foreign and sinister growing inside of him? Is the voice in his head his own? If not, is he strong enough to deny its requests? How far will he go to be free of his wife and child? With Familiar, the power of Powell’s writing is combined with exquisite special FX. The absolutely cringe worthy gore comes courtesy of The Butcher Shop.
Led by the marvelously morbid duo of Ryan Louagie and Carlos Henriques, The Butcher Shop worked on all three films, but Familiar was the apex of the atrocities committed. All kidding aside, these guys are the most talented and creative FX team in Ontario, and maybe Canada. You should definitely check out their reel (I believe it is available on YouTube).
Closing out the trilogy is HEIR, Powell’s visceral monster movie. The Butcher Shop is along for the ride once again, adding just a pinch of perversion. Sharing the screen with Nolan this time around is Bill Oberst Jr., a genre film vet and mighty fine actor. Nolan plays a father, worried that his son may have inherited something a tidbit more troubling than his hair or eye color. Dad gets in touch with an old friend (Oberst Jr. turning in quite the eerie performance), hoping that he might be able to help the young boy with his problem. By keeping the story a little bit foggy, HEIR allows viewers to let their imaginations run wild. Powell shows that he respects the intelligence of the audience, by failing to spoon feed us every little detail. If I told you anymore about this particular short, you wouldn’t need to see it, and every one of these three films NEED to be seen!
These are not only some of the best Canadian shorts I have seen, but the best shorts period. Powell’s brand of filmmaking brings the work of a young David Cronenberg to mind. Fans of body horror will lose their shit over this trilogy. The gang at Fatal Pictures have said that HEIR will be their final short film. I can’t think of a production company that I’d rather see a feature from, so hopefully they will have one in the works sooner than later.
For now, do yourself a favor and check out Familiar (available from iTunes). Also, keep an eye out for HEIR, as it is burning up the film festival circuit as we speak. Just don’t forget who turned you on to these nightmares of nastiness.