Remote and The Last Halloween (reviewed by Lisa Marie Bowman)

I recently watched and reviewed two short horror films from the Canadian filmmaker, Marc Roussel. They’re both available to be viewed on vimeo and they’re both more than worth your time.

(And yes, I will be including links!)

The first one that I watched was Remote, a 19 minute look at murder, time travel, and what can happen when the weather interferes with your cable signal. Matt (Ron Basch) is in the process of getting a divorce and has just recently moved into a small apartment. One night, during a severe snow storm, Matt’s cable goes out. Grabbing his remote, Matt flips through channel after channel of static until, suddenly, he finds one channel that appears to still be coming in.

And what’s on that channel?

Matt’s apartment! Except, of course, Matt’s not there. Instead, a young woman named Justine (Sarah Silverthorne) is living in the apartment and she can see Matt on her TV screen staring at her. Using her own remote, she tries to change the channel, just to then have Matt turn it back.

Once they start talking, Matt discovers that, while he’s in 2008, Justine is in 1978. Cautiously, the two of them start to get to know each other. Justine is amazed to learn about the internet, smart phones, and laptops. She tells Matt that she’s a law student. Matt offers to do a google search to see if Justine ever became a lawyer. However, when he does so, he discovers that Justine was murdered in 1978…

Now, at this point, I have to stop telling you about the film’s plot. Why? Because there’s a huge twist and you won’t see it coming and I’m certainly not going to give it away. At the point where I thought I knew exactly what was going to happen in Remote, the film suddenly goes in a totally unexpected direction.

And what’s important about this twist is that it totally and completely works. That’s the important thing to remember about an effective plot twist. Not only does it need to be unexpected but it also needs to still make sense. It should be surprising but it still needs to work within the film’s established logic. Fortunately, the twist in Remote does just that and the result is a very satisfying short film. Both Ron Basch and Sarah Silverthorne are likable and have a lot of chemistry and Roussel does a good job at creating and maintaining a proper atmosphere of both menace and wonder.

The film actually made me jealous because it never snows down here in Texas. If it ever did, I’d be the happiest girl around. The time travel would just be an added bonus!

Remote can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/29814386.

The second Roussel film that I watched was The Last Halloween, which is a bit of an apocalyptic holiday tale. The film opens with a group of children walking across the ruined remains of a city. It’s obvious that something big and destructive has happened though the film, wisely, refrains from going into specifics and instead allows the viewer’s imagination to fill in the backstory.

There aren’t many people left in this city and the ones that we do see are either crazy or paranoid. However, that’s not going to stop our four trick-or- treaters from celebrating Halloween. Dressed as a ghost, a witch, a grim reaper, and a devil, the four of them go from house to house and bravely deal with the insane ramblings of the apocalypse’s survivors. What’s significant is that, at first, every survivor is eventually won over by the holiday spirit. They may start by saying that they don’t have anything left to give but, looking down at the four children, all of them find a little something to toss in their bags.

And, at the beginning anyway, it’s all rather sweet. I’ve often wondered if, after a huge calamity, people would continue to observe the annual holidays.  The Last Halloween suggests that many would.

However, there’s always going to be that one guy who doesn’t want to play along. Our trick-or-treaters eventually run into one such guy who,despite the protests of his wife, refuses to give them candy, trinkets, or anything else.

And that, of course, is when he’s reminded that it’s trick or treat. And if you’re not willing to give out a treat, then you’ve left yourself open for a trick. And, while I was expecting there to be a trick, I was taken by surprise at just how extreme the trick turned out to be. By the end of the film, I found myself wondering whether the trick-or-treaters were offering a reminder of humanity in the middle of the apocalypse or if they were perhaps the reason for the apocalypse themselves!

The Last Halloween is an entertaining reminder of the fact that the end of the world is no excuse for not being neighborly on Halloween. It’s a lot of fun and you can watch it at https://vimeo.com/83883766!

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