Short Film Review: SCYTHE

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Award winning writer/director Jim Rothman created his fourth short film SCYTHE as a proof-of-concept project for a feature film. Following the release of SCYTHE; the short, Rothman plans to fund the feature through a Kickstarter campaign, beginning on April 5th. We had the chance to check out the short before it’s online premier, and there’s a lot for horror fans to love here.

From the opening scene, there’s really no way of telling which direction the film will take. There are two young female friends smoking weed in a close up opening scene which helps with a sense of intimacy – and gives the viewer a connection to the types of characters often written of as ‘slasher-fodder’. There are brief references to past smoking sessions ending in paranoia, which also helps set up a sense of unreliability to the narration – how much of what is happening is a genuine threat versus an overactive imagination?

The setup is familiar to horror fans, and pays respectful homage to Halloween in many of it’s sequences. While we don’t want to give too much away, there is an extremely effective stalk scene. It’s easy for horror filmmakers to fall back on the tropes of having the killer appear randomly behind his victim – without much sense of logic as to how he managed to get there. SCYTHE takes it’s time to provide a believably tense chase, and as it’s a result it’s jump scares pay off well. Some of the shots in this sequence draw heavily from the opening scenes of Halloween, but with a quicker pace to the confrontation. It’s a 70s slasher with a fresh coat of paint, and takes us through beloved cliches of horror without feeling tiresome.

We also want to give praise to the female character at the centre of the film. Setting up the film with teenage characters leads the viewer into the familiar – only to subvert those expectations. The female lead is portrayed as believable, resourceful, possessing self-preservation, and even gets a few laughs.

The short version of SCYTHE premiered at the Los Angeles International Short Film FestivalOn April 8th, it will be screening at the 40th Cleveland International Film Festival. The team behind the short, and upcoming feature told us “Jim’s film will modernize the slasher genre and have a human-interest, dramatic element that takes the time to focus on developing three dimensional characters that “actually have lives, that we actually care about.” Painstaking research was utilized to avoid the annoying, eye-rolling horror film cliques the slasher genre is known for. The film is suspense-based, intensity-based, fear-based, not gore-based. “

The slasher genre needs a makeover, and again we see fresh approaches and creative talent in the independent horror community. It’s Halloween meets James Wan, crossed with a stylish thriller – and now we’ve seen the short – we need to see the feature!