I.O.U. (Short, 2005) - Dread Central
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I.O.U. (Short, 2005)



I.O.U. PosterStarring Tony Todd, Joseph Gilbert, Taylor Lipman, Rachel Haines

Written and directed by Kevin Shulman

23 Minutes

I can think of few things worse than losing a loved one, especially when the loss comes after a long battle with an illness. To be forced to watch as this once thriving individual suffers and fades away can be devastating to the surviving family members. The feelings of helplessness and guilt can be overwhelming whether you are a young child or a grown man. Most of us find the strength to move on, but there are those who simply cannot forgive themselves for allowing even the most inevitable of deaths to occur. They refuse to believe that there was nothing they could have done to save the person they loved so dearly.

I.O.U. is the story of Jack Bruckner (Tony Todd), who is struggling with this very circumstance. Jack’s beloved wife has succumbed to cancer, and even though time has passed, he is still burdened with guilt over her death. He believes that he should have been able to save her because he is a doctor.

We watch as Jack coasts through his daily routines, barely a shell of a man, all the while doing his best to put on a brave face for his young daughter, Melissa. The relationship between the two is visibly suffering the effects of the loss of wife and mother, but they continue their lives as normally as they can. Melissa is sending out invitations to her upcoming birthday party, and Jack is planning his first meeting with a woman he met online.

Jack’s already bleak outlook takes another hit following a disappointing experience at the bar while waiting for his date to arrive. He forces his way through the next few days in the hopes that Melissa’s birthday will be just the distraction he needs to clear his head. Unfortunately for him, someone else has other plans for the day’s festivities!

The premise behind I.O.U. is brilliant in its simplicity, but I think it deserves more than its mere twenty-three minute runtime to do it complete justice. It definitely holds its own at the slighter length, but the story could easily fill a feature length timeslot. Given the chance, the tortured tale would be able to draw its audience deeper into itself before the gut-wrenching climax rears its ugly head.

In his role as Jack, Tony Todd comes across as a man at war with his own personal demons. Unfortunately there are times when his emotional outbursts seem more forced than genuine. Taylor Lipman, who plays the part of Melissa, does a pretty decent job of being a sad little girl who misses her mom. At times, though, it was hard to hear her lines, and she seemed a tad mechanical. I’m not entirely sure if it was a misstep in the direction or if it was something else, but Todd and Lipman didn’t appear to have any onscreen chemistry. They just weren’t believable as a father/daughter pairing, and it had nothing to do with the obvious difference in race.

There is a twist in the film that held no real mystery for me. I found it relatively obvious from the moment this particular plotline was set into motion. This didn’t detract anything from the film for me, however, because I often see such things coming far before anyone else does. I do have to say nevertheless that there is a scene later in the film when the secret is revealed that I found to be quite absurd and nearly insulting. There is a moment when a character looks directly into the camera, and this ridiculous image is accompanied by a sharp change in the musical score. It was corny, unnecessary, and nearly sucked all credibility out of an otherwise wonderful movie.

I often re-watch films while I write the reviews for them, and I.O.U. is one that I did this with. I cannot believe all of the subtle hints, clues, and details that I overlooked during the first viewing. Upon watching it again, I discovered even more things I simply didn’t catch. Most of these unnoticed bits came in the form of sounds and are brilliantly disguised or used when you are distracted in the midst of other goings-ons.

Kevin Shulman, who both wrote and directed the film, shows some serious cinematic chops in I.O.U. He’s got a great eye for detail and frames his shots well. I did feel that some of his efforts to convey certain moods or lapses in time seemed a bit too dramatic or drawn out at times, but this is easily forgiven when you take in additional viewings and can truly appreciate all of the complexities he included. All in all, I was truly impressed by this young filmmaker’s talents.

Although it’s not without faults, I found I.O.U. to be a truly haunting tale of a torturous, spiteful act perpetrated against an already broken soul. Its use of subtlety to capture the audience in its web of malice is outstanding. I.O.U. proves that you don’t need a huge budget and buckets of gore to be a real horror film and that man is the scariest monster of all.

3 1/2 out of 5

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review



Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis

Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic


Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

User Rating 3 (1 vote)
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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)



We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View



Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento

Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film


Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

User Rating 0 (0 votes)
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