Reviewed by Morgan Elektra
Starring Carly Turnbull, Jake Suffian, Merritt Choate
Written & Directed by Phil Mucci
Those of you who were really paying attention last year may have noticed that I fell in love… No, not with my new husband (that happened several years ago), but with a short film by a guy named Phil Mucci. The short was a gorgeous piece of work called The Listening Dead (which incidentally just took home the award for Best Short Film at Portugal’s prestigious Fantasporto Film Festival).
So naturally when Phil sent me an email and told me he’d done another short called Far Out, which he described as dark but funny, I asked him to send it right over. Before the DVD arrived in the mail, I wondered if he’d be able to do it again. You know what they say about lightning in bottles and sophomore slumps. And I wondered whether someone who’d knocked my socks off with a silent short film would be able to do it again with a talkie. And I REALLY wondered what “dark but funny” might mean.
Well, now I know.
Did he do it again? Yep. Can he do a film with dialogue? Sure thing! What does “dark but funny” mean? Apparently “really fucking good.” Okay, okay… to be more specific, Far Out features Merritt Choate as Fresno, a guy who brings his shy but very sexy chick, Carmilla (Carly Turnbull), whom he just met at a rather unusual location, to a “Happening” at his groovy buddy Mal (Jake Suffian)’s place. While the two men talk, Carmilla becomes more “well-acquainted” with certain parts of the other tripped out guests. And let’s just say she makes a big splash at the party!
The first thing you’re going to notice is the LOOK of this film because it’s another flat-out piece of art to look at. Mucci showcases his creative eye in a really unique way. Though the two shorts are incredibly different in both tone and visual style — his last piece was barbaric but beautiful and this one is frisky and lovely — they bear an unmistakable stamp of artistry. Far Out doesn’t come across as just an homage to the filmmaking techniques of the era of psychedelia but almost like a film crafted during the actual time period. It really has to be seen to be believed.
And it’s not just his films either. If you check out his still photography, you get the same sense of vision and panache and exquisite skill. They tell a story. I think it’s the necessity of conveying a story through a single photograph or a short series of photographs that has helped Mucci hone his storytelling skills to such a razor edge that he’s able to tell a complete and interesting tale in a very short period of time – just four and a half minutes this time around.
The rest of the guys from the Hive are back again as well, including special fx and production designer Michael Houk (who was responsible for Ravage, my darling doggy from The Listening Dead, and if I’m not mistaken, is back with some more great model work in Far Out) and cinematographer Predrag Dubravcic,. It’s clear this team works together like a well-oiled machine, and the product they put out shows it. But I don’t want to make it all about how this thing looks because it’s not just a pretty face. The actors work their small parts and minimal dialogue well, and despite the very “trippy” surroundings, no one slipped into campy or ridiculous overacting. Like Goldilocks in the three bears’ house, it was juuuuuuust right. And the smoky sex kitten good looks of Carly Turnbull don’t hurt either. She bears a fair resemblance to The Listening Dead star Karen Miller, too, so I think Phil may have a leading lady type!
As far as subgenres go, this is definitely a horror comedy, but unlike some that are too heavy on the comedy and too light on the horror (or vice versa), making the whole endeavor feel unsuccessful on both fronts, Far Out strikes a really nice balance between both angles. It’s super fun and twisted and gorgeously crafted. Am I raving? Yeah, I know. But I get excited by gorgeous things… it’s the Taurus in me. How gorgeous? Like, Leonardo da Mucci. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. I don’t think he actually invented any of the technology he used to film the piece. But you get my point.
I have no doubt this is only the beginning of the great things the guys at the Hive will do. I can’t wait until their next project — it’s finally a feature!! — titled Blood of the Virgin’s Crypt (1972), which Phil says will be “like the unholy love child of The Listening Dead and Far Out.” Sounds intriguing! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The boys at the Hive are disgustingly talented, and they’ve got a passion for our genre. And they make good movies, which is just what the horror genre needs. Far Out will be doing the festival circuit this year. Check out your local fests, and go see it!
5 out of 5
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