By Jacob Calta
May 19, 2020
I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as pleasantly surprised as I have with this chance I was been afforded. The director of this short film, freshman filmmaker McClain Lindquist, reached out to me and offered a screener of his short film in anticipation of its festival run. The film is a new adaptation of The Tell-Tale Heart. Being a fan of the classic story, I said yes. What I had gotten was a fresh take on Poe’s tale told with a psychotronic flair that is as in debt to Roger Corman’s beloved Poe pictures of the 60s as it is to the surreal stylings of Dario Argento, and even a hint of Cronenberg thrown into the mix courtesy of stunning makeup effects work by Chris Hanson.
Lindquist’s take on the story sees our infamously unreliable narrator (played by Sonny Grimsley) in a fascinating state of delusion. He and the Old Man (played by James C. Morris) live locked in the period Poe has written the story, but as evidenced by the presence of Mikah Olsen’s Officer Sharpe and Teren Turner’s Detective Tucker, the world in which they inhabit is clearly out of step with the times. This, combined with a nonlinear narrative structure and the unhinged nature of the lead, allows you to become submerged into the fractured psyche of our nefarious storyteller.
Grimsley is undeniably the standout, walking the fine line between camp and class, and delivering Poe’s verbiage in a tremendously eloquent manner. The rest of the cast does fine, but Grimsley relishes in his role in a way that is charming and eerie. There is also a clear streak of black comedy to the piece, thanks to Grimsley’s dated mannerisms and murderous ways clashing with the contemporary nature of Olsen and Turner’s characters. Above all, what makes the film work like a charm is that, regardless of the modern qualities added to the story, is the unashamed Gothicism and surrealism the core narrative is treated with.
With a beautifully old-fashioned home, some marvelous period costuming, and Grimsley’s macabrely quaint narration, one can be forgiven for believing this to be a lost nugget in the cannon of Corman’s work, a string of adaptations noted for an exquisite attention to detail in spite of budgetary constraints. And like with Corman, there is plenty of room for flashes of expressionism. Armed with Joseph Olivas’s colorful and creative cinematography, the unnerving sound design of Jake Proctor, the aforementioned FX work from Hanson, and the effective scoring of Joel Pack, Lindquist keeps in the spirit of Poe’s work while lending it an off-the-wall grindhouse edge that makes for a bloody good time. I’m most astounded by the mastery of lighting here. The detail of a thin sliver of light cast upon the Old Man’s face is masterfully realized, as well as this dazzling shot of a knife lit up in blood-red.
Though one can be forgiven for finding the way the narrative jumps about more than a tad confusing, I love the direction Lindquist has taken the story. The brilliance of The Tell-Tale Heart as a piece of prose is that it allows you to slip into the mind of a killer in such a chilling way, and for my money’s worth, this latest retelling captures that quality by way of its schizophrenic structure, taking you between the Narrator’s recounting of the tale, the tale itself, and the fantastical realms in between. As we all await the revving up of film festivals the world over, this piece shall be subject to change, as I personally feel compelled to let you all know when and where you can find this marvelous short film.
By Kaleb Morgan
May 17, 2020
Podcast can be found at: https://macabremediapodcast.libsyn.com/-episode-34-the-tell-tale-heart-2020
As some of you may know I (Kaleb Morgan) cohost a podcast called Macabre Media Podcast. About a month ago a Twitter user with the handle @telltalefilm messaged me privately on my personal account sharing that they would love if Jorge and I left a review. Over the past month I have been inundated with finals but since my semester ended yesterday I made the review my top priority. We recorded an episode but its a little hard to pull a one-liner from that so here’s a blog post (don’t worry I will link the episode at the bottom with everything else).
I will start off strong. Bassmints Pros Films is easily the most creative and riveting adaptation of not only The Tell Tale Heart but any Poe adaptation I have seen. The cinematography and sound design/score are at a level that exceeds the general limits of short films from indie studios. This was tremendously surprising considering the general struggle short films tend to endure when it comes to technicality. There is not a second of fluff and much like the original story it is jam packed in its short length. The practical effects and limited CGI were very well done (much to Jorge and my delight). The cinematography seemed to have inspirations from David Fynch, Panos Cosmatos, Dario Argento and maybe a dash of Stanley Kubrick. The score (composed by Joel Pack) is easily one of the best parts of the film, not saying the rest isn’t enjoyable.
What is most impressive to me is the directorial ability of McClain Lindquist. This was the mortician’s (and musician) first foray into directing and it was almost perfectly executed. I previously mentioned some inspirations and I want to explain my assumptions a bit here. The color palettes used in this film are what remind me of Panos Cosmatos and David Fynch. The quick and focused zoom-in shots remind me of Dario Argento and shots we see in the original Suspiria and Deep Red. Finally there seems to be a slight influence from Stanley Kubrick in the way some of the madness is portrayed and even some of the slower creeping shots. However, Lindquist sets up his own style in how he addresses certain sequences and even into some of the artistic choices he introduces into the story of The Tell Tale Heart.
I really only had one gripe with this film, which both Jorge and myself share and that’s the performance of the police officer and detective. Their line delivery seemed somewhat forced and inorganic. This wasn’t so bad as to dissuade us from the film or even make us not enjoy it but it was something we had both noticed.
Finally, I want to address the performance of Sonny Grimsley, which highlights the film. The film is certainly set in modern time, the police officers carry modern hand guns and drive cars, but that doesn’t stop the Narrator from maintaining the same internal dialogue and narration as the original text from 1843. He even goes so far as to wear the attire and speak in an accent (which left something desired for me). I believe this to be indicative of him being off. Grimsley’s ability to portray madness and insanity are exquisite and Lindquist capitalizes on this with effects and dialogue written for the conversation with the police.
This short film (22 minutes) hasn’t hit the festival circuit yet and we aren’t sure if or when it will be widely released but this was a very pleasant experience and if you don’t want to listen to our episode on Macabre Media Podcast (though you should), Jorge and I both rate this movie 10/10.
Review can be found at: https://frightfeatures.com/2020/05/17/the-tell-tale-heart-2020-short/
May 10, 2020
Director: McClain Lindquist
Writer: McClain Lindquist (Screenplay) Edgar Allan Poe (Story)
Starring: Sonny Grimsley, James C Morris, Mikah Olsen, Teren Turner
Plot: Adapted from Edgar Allen Poe’s original text, this Original psychological thriller Story has been re-imagined in this mind-bending, pulse-pounding, bloody-disgusting short film.
Tagline – Descend Into Madness
Runtime: 22 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Excellent Twist on a Classic Tale
Story: The Tell Tale Heart starts as Detective Tucker (Turner) and Officer Sharpe (Olsen) arrive at the mansion, greeted by the Narrator (Grimsley) who is being questions about the noises that occurred in the mansion the night before, as he tries to explain the noise, he dives into his own story that drove him to want to get rid of his master the Old Man (Morris) and his evil eye.
Thoughts on The Tell Tale Heart
Final Thoughts – Edgar Allan Poe gave us some of the greatest short stories, The Tell Tale Heart is one of the most famous, With this version we do mix modern investigation of what might have happened with the classic narration to show the descent into madness the narrator goes through due to his guilt coming through. We have four characters that are flushed out to feel realistic and to let the actors give us strong performances throughout. The camerawork and settings help increase the descent of the Narrator too, which makes this one of the strongest versions of Poe’s work.
Overall: Must Watch Poe adaptation.
Review can be found at: https://moviesreview101.com/2020/05/10/the-tell-tale-heart-2020-short-movie-review/
By Erebus Horror
May 9, 2020
If you were to go up to any horror fan today and ask them to reel off a list of horror influencers, who do you think would be mentioned first? King? Lovecraft? Maybe this generation of fans wouldn’t even mention literature. Perhaps the likes of Romero or Craven would precede all others?
Yet, the truth is most of the above names would probably never have been a horror icon if it wasn’t for the influencers of the 1800’s. Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley and of course Edgar Allan Poe (among many others) sowed the seeds to what is now a rainforest of Amazonian proportions. Whilst some people may forget this, relying heavily on the influences of modern day pioneers, McClain Lindquist remains true to horror’s gothic roots.
Lindquist’s adaptation of ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ brings the story to life in just over 20 minutes. Staying true to Poe’s original prose, The Tell Tale Heart depicts The Narrator taking us through the dark realms of his psyche, all the while trying to convince us (and himself) that he is in fact sane.
I was initially intrigued as to how this visual portrayal would pan out. Would Lindquist stay true to the time period Poe originally perceived? Or would he give it a modern twist? The answer came within the first 20 seconds. Darkness, with only the fleeting conversation between a Police Officer and a Detective using current language. Modern day then? I’d say so… Until the words of the Police Officer conclude the dark sequence; “I hate the way he talks – It’s like an old movie.” Thus paving the way for The Narrator.
Depicted superbly by Sonny Grimsley, The Narrator’s prose, garb and mannerisms wouldn’t seem out of place on any theatrical stage. Lindquist successfully amalgamates the two time periods into one as we are taken on a journey through The Narrator’s dwindling grasp of reality. Whilst fans of Poe can be satisfied the depiction pays homage to the original, fans who have never read The Tell Tale Heart can also enjoy the traditional elements of horror throughout.
The movie contains shock, gore, suspense and most importantly it immerses the audience. We don’t just observe The Narrator’s descent into madness, we’re dragged into the abyss with him!
Alongside the great acting and directing, I feel I also need to pay tribute to the great SFX appearing throughout the movie. As you know, indie horror tends to be done on a budget, and as such we’re often treated to some cringe-worthy special effects. Yet those within The Tell Tale Heart are pretty impressive. There’s a vast amount of blood, gore and visual effects, not to mention the makeup/prosthetics used in transforming James C Morris into the old man. The SFX team have excelled and definintely need some recognition alongside everyone else involved in putting together this great short movie.
Review can be found at: https://erebushorror.wordpress.com/2020/05/09/the-tell-tale-heart/
By Jared Gray
May 8, 2020
“I hate the way he talks,” begins Officer Sharpe (Mikah Olsen), “it’s like an old movie.” Indeed, Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tale is familiar enough to have been adapted many times over. To make another short film based on this story might be an idea born from madness. And yet, as Poe himself says in his original text: “Madmen know nothing.” McClain Lindquist (a horror fanatic responsible for both adaptation and direction) has smartly created something fresh and modern while remaining true to the timelessness of Poe’s original work.
All the elements are there in The Tell Tale Heart: an unreliable Narrator (Sonny Grimsley) who believes himself sane, the Old Man (a charming James C. Morris) with his cloudy “vulture eye”, the precision and calculation of the murder plot, the killing and dismemberment (presented in graphic, gory detail by an incredible special effects team), the concealment of the body beneath the floorboards. But Lindquist’s film is set in modern day and cleverly begins at the end of the story, told as a series of flashbacks during a police interrogation. The scenes abruptly jump back and forth between the historic house (exterior shots feature the Eccles Mansion in Ogden, UT) and the sterile interiors of the police station, sometimes seeming to merge the two environments together. This can make the timeline tricky to follow, especially considering the climactic moment of Poe’s text (when the Narrator’s guilty conscience gives him away) is moved from its expected place at the ending. To make things more confusing, both the Narrator and the Old Man are costumed in period clothing (excellent attention to detail by Janelle Corey and Katie Carlson) which contrasts the modern-day uniforms of Detective Tucker (Teren Turner) and Officer Sharpe (Olsen). But confusion might be exactly what Lindquist is going for. It’s all too apparent from the beginning that something is wrong with the Narrator, and perhaps we should be careful not to take his story at face value. After all, he is a madman, and if he believes in his version of the truth strongly enough, it becomes impossible not to see it for ourselves.
Sonny Grimsley shines as the charismatic Narrator, winning us over and earning a place alongside contemporary characters like Dexter Morgan or Patrick Bateman. The Narrator speaks with the heightened vernacular found in Poe’s writing, effectively believing himself to be of a different time, and Grimsley’s approach is compelling to watch as his grounded sanity slowly dissolves into madness.
This is a horror story, so expect a few well-placed jump scares and a lot of blood. Each shot of the film is artfully crafted (Director of Photography, Joseph Olivas), its soundtrack expertly punctuated by relentless ticking clocks and pounding heartbeats (Sound Design by Jacob Proctor), and all of it is woven together with a beautiful score by Joel Pack. With a few key visual elements (Grimsley’s knowing smirks evocative of Psycho’s Norman Bates, bulging doors not unlike those which possess the mansion in The Haunting, flashes of timepieces reminiscent of Damien Karras’s nightmares in The Exorcist), The Tell Tale Heart pays as much homage to classic horror films as it does to Poe’s brilliant writing, and is subsequently very deserving of a spot on the shelf next to your favorite scary shorts.
Lindquist’s choice to set The Tell Tale Heart in a modern setting is a bold one. Unlike in Poe’s time, this is a world with electricity and telephones. But just like in the original story, it’s also a world where a madman can perform an unspeakable crime and still believe his actions are justifiable — a sobering reminder of the violence and brutality we still face today.
By Kevin Thomas
May 5, 2020
The Tell-Tale Heart is one of Edgar Allen Poe’s most revered stories. It’s a thoroughly unnerving tale that grabs the reader from the outset and doesn’t let go until its chilling finale. As a fan of both that story and Poe’s writing overall, I’m happy to report that this short film adaptation maintains the feel of his work while adding some modern flair.
The story follows a mysterious Narrator (Sonny Grimsley) being questioned by two police officers (Mikah Olsen and Teren Turner) in connection with a local disappearance. The more the man tells, the more unhinged he becomes, only increasing the cops’ suspicions.
The Tell-Tale Heart is an unnerving experience. Grimsley exudes creepiness from the first frame, delivering his dialogue (Much of which is in voiceover) with soft yet malicious energy and an evil smile across his face. The omnipresent score, gothic atmosphere, and beautifully gory practical effects ensure most of the scares hit bullseye, though some may be tested by the jump scares that can be seen coming from space. I also applaud the filmmakers for using their low budget well and making a slick, professional-looking final product that should earn some attention.
The flaws of The Tell-Tale Heart are minimal, but worth mentioning. Those unfamiliar with the story may be confused on first viewing due to its flashback structure, and a character remarks how a bedroom is pitch black despite light coming in from the outside. Those flaws aside, The Tell-Tale Heart is a creepy, loving adaptation of its source material that should satisfy current Poe fans and showcases a new talent in director McClain Lindquist. See The Tell-Tale Heart.
Would likely be rated R for Graphic Images.
May 2, 2020
Following the Narrator, who is haunted by the “evil eye” of the Old Man whom he cares for. Descending further into madness, the Narrator murders the Old Man in his bed and then hides the body under the floorboards. When Detectives Tucker and Office Sharpe come to inquire about the old man’s whereabouts the Narrator frail mind begins to unravel.
Starring: Sonny Grimsley, James C. Morris, Teren Turner, and Mikah Olsen
Directed by: McClain Lindquist
Has anyone ever given you the ‘evil eye?’ Wonder what their problem was, or maybe you wanted to do something about it but never did? Well the Narrator in this story becomes obsessed, and even goes mad because of the evil eye of the Old Man he cares for. In this case, the Old Man actually has an evil eye, or at least an eye with something wrong with it.
The Narrator tells a tale of how he takes care of the Old Man like he’s supposed to, but can’t shake his evil eye. Day by day, night by night, he begins to plan a murder. He finally pulls it off, but not as perfectly as he thought. He’s brought on the attention of neighbors who now have the cops and a detective at his door. They want to know where his Old Man is, and put the screws to him until he cracks.
From start to the finish of “The Tale Tell Heart,” the Narrator does an excellent job of pulling the audience into his crazy tale. He seems to have everything under control with unique style of talking and well dressed look, but madness turns him inside out. There’s no happy ending here, as it gets much bloodier than the audience might have first suspected. Part of his descent into madness includes an excellent back and forth of him being questioned in the Old Man’s room, and at the police station. Because of the way this tale is told the audience might feel they are spinning out of control as well, which means that this short film has done its job. Make sure to catch this one coming soon, or I’ll be giving you the evil eye!
Review can be found at: https://horrosgoryreviews.blogspot.com/2020/05/the-tell-tale-heart-review.html
By Slasher Thrasher
May 1, 2020
Review can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wrIFqgFEs4
By Stacey Shaw
May 1, 2020
Well over a century and a half after his death, Edgar Allan Poe’s works still endure – inspiring writers and filmmakers alike in adaptions and homages of his tales of horror. Their mileage varies wildly, but here with first-time filmmaker McClain Lindquist we get what in my mind is the best adaptation of the classic story The Tell Tale Heart I’ve ever seen (and readers, I have seen them all).
A synopsis of the story isn’t really necessary here right? This story was first published in 1843 after all, so let’s instead get to looking at this shockingly good short film.
Reimagined into modern times, whilst making the narrator (Sonny Grimsley, Blood and Oil 2015) decidedly out of that time adds a jarring side in-keeping with the original story’s descent into madness. Sonny’s turn as the narrator is perfectly pitched as he struggles to hold his composure and air of confidence through the questioning, and almost feels as though he was plucked out of the original story itself with his vocal mannerisms which is nicely nodded to in the opening moments. The cast here are all strong and play their parts with a realism that makes it feel less like an old horror story and more like something you’d watch on a true crime show, their seriousness adding to the tale of woe that plays out.
Visually I was blown away, The Tell Tale Heart is beautifully shot in 4K UHD and the set looks like it’s been plucked out of a big budget period piece – Poe himself would be pleased with the set I’m sure. Costume and make-up SFX have done a fantastic job, the face of the old man is wizened and disturbing without looking even a little bit fake which can be hard to achieve (Especially on a particularly young actor – usually it looks quite off when this is done) but they have absolutely cracked it here. There’s a definite noire-esque feel to the visuals that works with the snappy pacing of the story in a way that holds the viewers attention and drags you into the chaos on the screen which I loved. Gore-wise, yes this isn’t for the feint of heart, but its gore is in your face without being gratuitous which I always appreciate because gore for the sake of gore get’s dull fast, here they build to it and make you wait for that blood-soaked payoff.
As just mentioned, this has a brisk pacing that gives it punch, complemented by the dialogue and scenes that begin to increase in speed to ramp up the tension in every way possible. There is of course also the classic heartbeat sound synonymous with this story, but the score too builds and swells as the story and the madness reach their conclusion. Lindquist is among other things a musician which pays off in spades with this film as it is beautiful and creepy in equal parts, modern yet ethereal – honestly I need that score in my life to listen to whilst writing because it’s a thing of beauty.
So as you can probably tell, I adored this short film – it’s an impressively strong piece from a first-timer who took a brave choice in adapting one of Poe’s most famous works. Aiming high has paid off here, because it’s one of the best shorts I’ve seen in a while. The Tell Tale Heart is a slick, delightfully creepy, and beautifully made adaptation of a classic that deserves a place in any horror fan’s heart.
Rating: 5 out of 5
If you get a chance to see this don’t miss it, this is clearly the start of an epic horror career for Lindquist.
Review can be found at: https://specialfeatureswithstaceyshaw.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/the-tell-tale-heart-2020/
By World of Horror and Paranormal
April 26, 2020
Review can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlV9JqbY7Tw