Doing this review series on fan films for Popcorn Horror has really made me re-evaluate the artistry and the perception of the artistry of fan films. Take director Adrian Picardi’s Left 4 Dead – Impulse 76 for example. This film is so slickly made, professional looking and enjoyable that it would not (excuse me for already mixing my zombie franchises here) be out of place if it was dropped right into an episode of The Walking Dead. And before you pompously say that “that’s just superficial visuals” may I remind you that this is film. The entire artform is based on the spectacle of visual expression dating all the way back to even before a crowd of people ran screaming from a steam train in 1896 (which makes L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat a horror film, if you think about it).
And yet film scholars are taught and, perhaps unthinkingly, regurgitate the notion that if a film is a “fan” film, if it’s based on a pre-existing property, it’s somehow a lesser film.
Then why do I see more artistry, technique and skill in films like Left 4 Dead – Impulse 76 than a great deal of the po faced “meaningful” shorts I’ve ever seen?
The lighting is beautiful, making the spaces seem much bigger than they must be, while also keeping things cramped and confined. They marry the editing and colours of the film to give the impression of a dying world without ever needing to resort to wide angle shots of Day of the Dead style urban wastelands. The costuming is completely on point and the special effects and extra work is high level. And then at the end it just goes completely crazy.Utterly bonkers. And that’s the beauty of the fan film, they can: and yet perhaps above all other forms of film they manage to maintain a level of verisimilitude no others could manage.
Many of these disciplines within cinema are the ones that are glossed over, so thank you, Left 4 Dead – Impulse 76 and other fan films, for championing these vital crafts.
Follow @RJBayley on Twitter