Watch Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_-ydqe719E
Written by Zak White and Todd Spence
Directed by Todd Spence
On April 15th of this year, legendary producer and filmmaker Roger Corman set out a two-week challenge to burgeoning directors to make their own short films in quarantine. Many of those films have been popping up online since. One that has made quite a splash on YouTube is the found footage shocker 3rd Eye Cult Murders from director Todd Spence.
The film presents itself as footage from a police investigation and plays out in one single shot, the camera being held by police detective Walter Strickland of the St. Louis PD. His ongoing narration tells us that he has returned to the Diaz home, where a husband and wife in their late sixties were found stabbed to death and dismembered by a home intruder. The symbol of the 3rd Eye Cult has been written in blood on the inside of the medicine cabinet. Strickland is still clearly puzzled by the case and has returned to find more clues but finds much more than he bargained for.
The question that comes up with a short film subject is: Can you really create suspense and scares in just a few minutes? In this case, the answer is a resounding “Yes”. The dark room, single light source from the camera effect gives the constant feeling that something could be lurking anywhere at any moment. Because the film takes care in setting the scene and building suspense in various ways, the payoff is quite effective.
There are a number of details that lend a great deal of authenticity to the film. It begins with a title card telling us this is “Footage Property of the St. Louis Police Department,” giving a case number and date: April 20, 1975. Though I assume the short was made on a digital device, it really does look like it was shot on 16mm with its slightly rounded edges, grainy look, and occasional, but never overdone, dropped frames. The scene of the crime looks fairly true to 1975 with its furnishings, rotary dial telephone, and various other pieces of set decoration. Considering the constraints of the quarantine situation and budget, it is an impressive feat. The make-up effects from Kate Klein also work very well and only add to the effectiveness of this little movie.
The film was written by director Todd Spence along with Zak White. Clearly there was thought put into the backstory of the mysterious 3rd Eye Cult that we get only a few hints of. Perhaps there is more to that story that we will learn in the future. If not, the cult certainly makes a memorable villain for this piece. Besides, it is scarier if we don’t know the whole story.
I love that we have gotten this and several other short films to showcase that horror is alive and well in our present situation. Creativity thrives in the midst of constraint; this has been proven for years. Low budgets, so called decency codes, mechanical failures, time constraints and the like have produced some of the most creative and interesting horror films of all time. So, I am excited to see what kinds of ingenuity will continue to arise.
So, take three and a half minutes and see for yourself. Personally, this works for me and gave me a good scare and a few minutes of escape. I look forward to seeing what else Todd Spence and company have up their sleeve.
3rd Eye Cult Murders is an effective found footage short film with style, suspense, and a very scary payoff.