Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Prospectors Curse

About a year ago, I received an e-mail from from a man named Josh Heisie informing me on a film he wrote and directed, titled The Prospectors Curse. After looking over the press release he attached, I agreed to write a review since The Prospectors Curse looked as though it had potential. However, due to there being unforeseen events, Mr. Heisie was unable to release the film by his Summer 2012 deadline.

Then recently, I've received another e-mail from him. He stated that not only was the trailer finally available for viewing (which you can view here), but so was the film, and that reviewers would get the first chance to take a look at it.

Upon viewing the trailer, I must admit, I wasn't sure what to think. It was almost as if it were a horror/comedy, mostly due to the actors facial expressions. When I first saw the section of the trailer of the prospector writhing on the ground with another guy kneeling beside him, my first thought was that the two were out joking around, not that one was badly injured. Then, the trailer got serious and dark, until the prospector jumped out of the shadows to scare the wits out of his unsuspecting victim, which made me think it was slipping into the comedy section once more.

I then viewed the film right after seeing the trailer. Keep in mind, the following once again contains spoilers.

The film opens with a darkened night, where we see that a man was murdered. Standing over him is the dead mans brother, vowing vengeance against the murderer. According to a young woman named Rosie, who is sitting with a bloody nose beside the dead man, the killer was Theodore Elsworth. She claims that Elsworth would constantly become jealous of any man who who showed any sort of affection towards her, and killed him in the heat of passion.

At the same scene, we see a group of workers approach and state that all the workers have been conned by a confidence man by the name of Jack Smith, who stole them of their wages by promising fake medicine. The group, as a whole, then plans to hunt down the two fugitives, and hang them both on the same day.

Then cut to Elsworth and Smith, both of which are traveling through the woods. Elsworth states that he goes by the nickname Tubby, and that although he feels bad for leaving his girlfriend behind, it wasn't his fault for what happened and that the victim had it coming. Smith then tries to "cure" him with a whistle and an elixir. They then stumble upon an injured prospector (fake beard and all, sorry guys, I think I saw the glue). The prospector demands that his little bit of gold and his watch gets sent back to his loved ones, to which Smith demands if there was more gold to be had. The prospector then dies, taking the location of more gold with him.

That evening in their small base camp, we see that Elsworth writing a letter to be sent to Rosie (which will be either be sent by carrier pigeon or when they ever enter another town, it was never actually stated how it would be sent). We learn that Elsworth and Smith haven chosen to keep the prospectors gold for themselves. Elsworth also appears to be hearing things coming from outside, and decides to go and check it out, which he sees his beloved Rosie who then kisses him. Upon doing so, he starts choking and coughing stuff up, causing him to turn away from Rosie. As he turns back, he sees the prospector, telling him to burn in hell, then attacks him like a rabid zombie.

Smith runs out to find Elsworth alone and hysterical, who then runs off to bury the prospector. Smith quickly follows, but as he does he is suddenly attacked by the zombie prospector and then drowns in quicksand. As Smith drowns, Elsworth is attacked by the men who sought justice against him, and ask if he has any last words before he hangs in the morning.

We then cut to Elsworth hanging in a noose and the credits begin to roll.

Upon viewing the actual film, it was very clear that this was meant as a horror comedy, but there were moments where the comedy felt forced and a tiny bit awkward. However, for a short film made by up and comers, it's not too bad at all. Upon asking Mr. Hiesie, his inspirations for this film were Evil Dead, Abbot & Castello, and a bit of HBO's Deadwood. He had told me that due to too many cartoons growing up, that he was always attracted to comedy and always wanted to incorporate it in his projects.

My main gripe upon this film was that the film seemed to end abruptly. It ends on a sense of total ambiguity to the point where it feels like it just ends. I don't mind ambiguity in film, I think a good horror film can do a lot with it, but when it comes to feeling as though there's no resolution whatsoever, then I think it just falls flat.

Also, when it came to the actual characters, I found no sympathy in any of them, except for maybe the man who sought justice for his brothers murder. Maybe it was because that the majority of the characters felt like they were bad people who were aware that they were doing bad things, only to not care. But as with many of the short films that I had reviewed, lack of full character development seems to be a common trait, simply because they are in fact short films.

In many short films such as these, there's plenty of focus on making these characters "human" and when I say that, I mean giving them flaws. But it almost feels as though as we don't have enough time to care for these people. If we were to take something like the show Breaking Bad for example, and trim it down to fifteen minutes, we'd miss out on all the times we would sympathize with Mr. White, a man who would go to any lengths to make sure his family is financially well off after he is gone.

I must admit, however, that I very much enjoyed the filming and costuming. Other than the prospectors goofy look, if there is one thing this film does right it's making it feel like was truly set in the gold rush days. This is the very thing that really attracted me to the movie. This film felt very authentic and other than the prospector, felt very believable. I give credit to all these people in making a visually pleasing film.

I also very much enjoyed the films soundtrack. This film certainly had a fitting soundtrack and it never once felt intrusive or out of place. The films composer, John Borra, certainly did his job well on the film, giving an old school banjo feel to put you in the mood.

Upon its official release, I suggest that you would give The Prospectors Curse at least one viewing, for the visual aspect if for nothing else. Keep in mind that it is in fact a horror comedy, to the point where some of the comedy feels forced. If you can handle that, then I think you'd certainly be impressed by this one. If you can wade through some of the minor flaws of the film, then I think The Prospectors Curse would be a fun fifteen minutes spent.

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