By Jason Manriquez
November 22, 2020
McClain Lindquist’s short-film adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s classic, The Tell-Tale Heart, is a moody, well-photographed ode to that particular strain of gothic theatricality that marries old-world airs to a distinctively American strain of macabre depravity and violence. There is no skimping of blood in any ill-conceived attempt to make this more acceptable to the tea and crumpet circles. Nope. This is a horror short with a vision, and it stays true to that vision throughout its modest 22-minute runtime. The Narrator, played by Sonny Grimsley, remains the one fixed constant throughout a series of vignettes meant to tease and discombobulate the audience. Time and space itself are continually made questionable, with clocks running backward, and the various scenes shifting locales, never quite sure if what’s happening is taking place at the home of the Old Man (James C Morris), or at some police station, or who-knows-where. Officer Sharpe, played by the wonderfully assertive Mikah Olsen, and Detective Tucker, portrayed by Teren Turner, appear as archetypal law enforcement from divergent eras, further heightening the spatio-temporal confusion. Officer Sharpe looks as though she was culled from an 80’s police drama, while the Detective looks like someone pulled from a pulpy Mickey Spillane novel. The auteur’s commitment to Poe’s literary vernacular is clearly meant to create tension within the viewer habituated to a uniform vernacular. All the characters speak from a distinct place, almost as if they all existed in separate worlds. Regardless, the film does a great job drawing the viewer in for a closer look at the simmering surface of an unhinged mind.
Review can be found at: http://dropyourlinen.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-tell-tale-heart-2020.html
By Daniel King
November 21, 2020
This short, directed by McClain Lindquist, offers a new take on one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous stories.
I say a ‘new take’ although the film does follow the story quite closely; no, where Lindquist departs from most retellings is an ingenious merging of time and place.
The narrator (Sonny Grimsley) is clearly a 19th century character – dress, surroundings, manner of speech – but the detective (Teren Turner) who comes to question him is a classic mid-1940s hard-boiled cop.
Not only that but the policewoman (Mikah Olsen) who accompanies to detective is from the present day. Sometimes the interrogation takes place in the narrator’s 19th century abode, sometimes it takes place in the detective’s office.
It’s a great take on the original and shows that flair and imagination can revive a tale that’s as old as the hills, and in so doing puts the fear and horror right back in.
Review can be found at: https://bloody-flicks.co.uk/2020/11/21/the-tell-tale-heart-review
By Jon Dunning
November 15, 2020
Slick, clean, & polished. This short looks and feels more expensive than most films I’ve seen this year. The camera work, music, & lighting is done to the 9’s. Lindquist shows promise as he channels filmmakers like Nicolas Winding Refn, Edgar Wright, & mixes those creative juices with early 00’s horror directors like Steve Beck & William Malone.
Gore and scares are on point. Some seem a little over the top and overtly thematic but actually feel needed to update the over century old telling of this very familiar tale.
Makeup and practical effects hit about 80% of the time. But the scenes are moving at such a frantic pace, that your brain doesn’t have time to hate the obvious old man make-up that looks like it was pulled right off the screen from Bad Grandpa. Setting was a little wonky. I wished it either was a complete modern retelling with updated dialogue, costumes, and performances. Or go all in with the period piece. What we got instead was an uneven setting where only the residences of the house seemed like they were from the period. There are only four actors/characters total and three of them felt like they were pulled out of a separate time completely. Although perhaps, Lindquist is making a creative statement, that the source material is timeless hence displaying multiple timelines affected by Poe’s work. Without context one can’t be sure.
The performance from the Narrator was fun and charismatic, however it felt like it was meant for a stage play. But when he was murderous and/or in insane mod he really was excellent. Other performances were varying levels of good enough. Although special notes to Mikah Olsen (Officer Sharpe) that not only grounds the story in reality but acts as the audience POV as she is just as confused with the costumes and speak as we the viewers were in a modern setting.
You can tell that the director is a musician because the music really whisked you away at breakneck speed from one bloody set piece to the next. It felt like a music video from The Used at times. In a good way.
So should you watch it? At a lightning paced 22 min run time and if you are a fan of the source material or not, this has something for every horror fan. So I would say an emphatic yes.
This short has great bones and talented people in front and behind the camera. It seemed to be a passion project especially for Director McClain
Lindquist and I’m excited to see just what this madman brings to the butchers block next.
Review can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JunKQTbCljw&feature=youtu.be
By Horror Wolf
November 14, 2020
The Tell Tale Heart horror short film is a retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s macabre story, and wow what a horrifying retelling it is in a great way. Right from the start you are captured and dragged down into the depths of gothic darkness toward a tale of murder and madness. Sonny Grimsley the narrator and main actor portrays the downfall into utter madness and lunacy so well it’s really unnerving and extremely disturbing and I love it.
Mood and atmosphere are key factors for setting the stage and honoring Poe’s work and The Tell Tale Heart handles this feat with ease. Everything from the costumes to the set design really made me feel like this came from the master Poe himself. He would be more than pleased with what was achieved in the visual aspect of this film.
Last but not least I want to talk about the makeup effects. I really dug the creepy old man makeup job. It was almost a monster makeup which makes sense because this is the way The Narrator sees him. The old man is more than capable of haunting your dreams with that demonic dead eye. There is one scene in particular that really brings a chill to the bones and that’s when the old man goes from somewhat human to complete demonic terror for a split second. So once again killer work on the effects department for creating some memorable nightmare fuel.
The Tell Tale Heart is really killer and well done. I highly recommend you give it a watch and try not to descend into utter madness. I mean it’s absolutely possible while viewing this film. I give The Tell Tale Heart a dreadful 9/10 score.
Review can be found at: https://www.horrorwolf666.com/horrorwolf666rsquos-bloody-reviews
By Corin Totin
November 5, 2020
It’s always a bold move to try adapting a piece of classic literature, especially one that has been done numerous times before. A director has to be very confident that their particular take on the subject matter has the chops to stand out from the other iterations and prove that there’s a reason for the story to be told yet again. Even though Edgar Allan Poe’s 1843 short story has already been adapted to film over a dozen times, director McClain Lindquist still felt that there was something unique that his take could offer and frankly, I’m damn glad he did.
The story of a caretaker (Sonny Grimsley, credited here as “The Narrator”) who is driven to murder because of his hatred for his elderly employer’s one blind eye is told within a modern setting but with some novel tweaks. The Narrator himself seems to be a man out of time (the cops themselves note that he “talks like he’s in an old movie”) but this eccentricity works wonderfully well and justifies the preservation of much of the original language from the story. Despite its modern setting Lindquist adheres to the soul of the source material and although the violence is significantly more graphic than what is merely hinted at in the original text, it perfectly fits within the style of this adaptation.
The film is exquisitely executed with incredible camera work and special effects that visually guide The Narrator’s rapid descent into madness. There is also some excellent practical effects work and the judicious use of occasional graphic violence further enhances the horror elements of the story. Speaking of effects, I did find Lindquist’s choice to use prosthetics to age-up the actor playing the old man by about fifty years rather than hiring someone age appropriate a bit confusing but this may have simply been an issue of actor availability. Don’t get me wrong, the prosthetics themselves are excellent and very convincing but like pretty much every aged-up actor they end up ultimately residing in the uncanny valley.
Of course effects are only one ingredient here and it’s Grimsley’s mesmerizing performance that really steals the show. Although the performances of the officers opposite him fall a bit flat by comparison, they are still serviceable and Grimsley’s bombastic character is sure to draw the viewers’ attention regardless. Minor issues aside, this is an excellent adaptation that really leans into the horror and creates a unique experience that fully justifies the retelling of this classic tale. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this should be considered the definitive take on the material and certainly the first place any fan of the story should look.
Review can be found at: https://sickflix.net/2020/11/05/short-film-review-the-tell-tale-heart-2020-duration-22-min/