Skip to content

John’s Horror Corner: Tethered (2017), Independent Short Film Review.

April 17, 2017

MY CALL:  This was excellent!  EXCELLENT!  Isolated, cautionary, atmospheric excellence.  MORE INDIE REVIEWS (solicited reviews):  Here at MFF we occasionally do horror short film and pre-release indie film reviews on request. Among recent solicited promotions are Order of the Ram (2013; short film), Love in the Time of Monsters (2014; feature length), Interior (2014; feature length), Smothered (2014; feature length), In the Dark (2015; feature length), Trailer Talk: The Void, The Void (2016; feature length), TRAILER TALK: Blood MoneyShort Film Buzz: Burn (2016; press release)Brother (2016; short film), the indie techno-horror Other Halves (2016; feature length), Short Film Buzz: Kickstarter Campaign for Scythe (2016; press release), Scythe (2016; short film), and Shallow Waters (2017; short film).

Disclaimer: This review was solicited by the filmmakers and/or producers who provided privileged access to the film. However, my opinion remains unbiased as I was neither hired nor paid to produce this critical review, nor do I have an investment stake in the film.

Not gonna’ lie—I really like the movie poster and tagline.  Posters and taglines are meant to hook us and can misrepresent the film’s actual content.  But I’m intrigued nonetheless…and, it turns out, this film delivers all you could have wanted.

IMDB page:
Twitter: @4leaguesmedia & @greendragondan

At but a brief 12 minutes, I was captivated in minute one!  [I wrote 400 words of this review after only seeing the first minute].  Some excellent shots, even if not necessarily of “innovative” style.  But that’s not always the point, nor would flare be in this film’s style.  Consistently thoughtful, well-practiced and technically sound shots leave us at the mercy of the film’s atmosphere.  The camera lingers on a boy’s weathered face…we are taken aback by the circumstances of his existence as his mother’s harrowing voice plays on a cassette-tape recording narrating the “rules” by which the abandoned blind boy lives, tethered to a weary wooden shelter surrounded by bells and animal traps.

The acting and camerawork were exemplary; the editing…perfect, abrupt, uneasing.  The film opened powerful intrigue overlaying melancholy, with the rigid remoteness and fable-like rules beckoning memories of the finer qualities of The Village (2004), the tip-toeing isolation in The Witch (2016) or the opening shots in The Hallow (2015). The finer moments of the sound editing/mixing (e.g., the rabbit scene) really dropped me deep down the abyssal mystique of this dark woodland fantasy that all viewers, by now, fear will be a cautionary tale of dire consequence.

After you watch the entire film, rewind to this part.  0:44-0:58 (i.e., “the 1st rule”) were 14 of the best seconds of editing I’ve seen this year.  It reminded me of the pub/pint pouring excellence (the brief, quick-cut montage) of Shaun of the Dead, only harrowing!

Complete newcomers to film, the actors playing the boy (Jared Cook) and voicing the mother’s recording (Grace Mumm; whom we never see) were both outstanding.  Jared carries no lines of dialogue (well, one word, off-screen), so part of me might question his ability to carry lines. But his taciturn intensity radiates merit.  Lines or not, he acted the shit outta’ this role and Grace Munn, as his mother’s voice…again, perfect.  These two were perfect and they roped me along into their dark journey.

But what lies beyond the rope’s length?

A man appreciative of nuance, director Daniel Robinette (Samca, Drawn to Fear, The Time Will Come) breeds mood and mystery into this fantastic film—especially in those first two minutes.  He’s generated all I need to support whatever he next pursues.  Solomon’s desperation is as tattered as his clothing, and his soul-broken longing noted each time he pushes “rewind” on his mother’s departing message.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: