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/
By Luke Barnes
October 24, 2020
The Tell-Tale Heart is a horror short film directed by McClain Lindquist. The film serves as a modern reimagining of the classic Edgar Allen Poe tale of the same name. The plot sees a man (Sonny Grimsley), be driven to madness and murder and we the audience are left to put the pieces together.
Sonny Grimsley might be my favourite performance of the year so far, or at least in my top 5. This narrator character perfectly capture the sense of the original tale and is so wonderfully disconcerting throughout, you never want to turn your back on him. There is an elements of mania to the performance that really heightens it into being something special.
I really enjoyed the practical effects in this film, I thought they had a great retro feel to them and the horror as a whole reminded me of classic 80’s pieces; I will admit I am a sucker for a good practical effect.
I thought the film itself was quite scary and threatening and had many moments in its short runtime that sent a chill down my spine. I would easily recommend this to any horror fan. You don’t need to be familiar with the Poe original to enjoy this either which is helpful for newcomers.
Overall, an incredibly strong horror short that is reminiscent of early Sam Raimi or Joe Dante which is high praise indeed.
Being friendly to newcomers as well as a good adaption of the Poe original
Nicely paced and perfectly edited
By Luis Franceschi
October 15, 2020
Projects like this one fill my heart with absolute joy. An elegant, terrifying and well-orchestrated sequence of images, that as its name indicates, uses one of the quintessential stories by Edgar Allan Poe as a base, but which in turn takes references from film classics such as “Psycho” to create its own identity.
Absolutely all the images present in “The Tell Tale Heart” are meticulously planned and very well executed, both technically and in staging. Each cut, transition or change of scenery is more elaborate and terrifying than the last one. And although we can say that it is a short film that shines for its technical aspect, it also does not abandon the importance of its characters and their interpretations.
Sonny Grimsley does a great job recreating with grace and a certain style the descent into madness of this character tormented by guilt and the nightmare that his life has been with this old man and his “vulture eye”, that generates so much terror in him.
As the only suggestion for future projects of its director (If it is worth to mentioning any), is to take care of some issues of makeup and lighting, but without a doubt, minor details before what is seen as a promising foray and absolute management in the cinematographic representation of the most hidden terrors of the mind.
Review can be found at: https://directorsblood.com/the-tell.html
By Keith Chawgo
October 3, 2020
The Literary License Podcast: Season 4: Episode 141 – EDGAR ALLEN POE: The McClain Lindquist Interview – Tell Tale Heart
BassMint Productions new short film, Edgar Allen Poe’s Tell Tale Heart is a beautifully shot and crafted short film that uses visual and hearing styles to bring its dark twisted story to the audience. Keeping closely linked with the classic gothic novel, McClain has taken a story that has been told numerous times before and put his stamp on it. This is probably one of the most truest forms of the story to come to screen.
The film starts out and captures its audience from the very beginning and builds to its ultimate conclusion. Sonny Gimsley as the narrator enthrals the audience as we are slowly thrown into his method of madness. Using close ups and sound design to emphasise this gives kudos to the production. Gimsley holds the audience in the palm of his hands as the audience are led by the hand to his despair and demise. A special mention has to be mentioned to James G Morris who plays the old man. This is a difficult part to get across and Morris is able to show a man who is hideous to look at but able to show the gentleness and caring side within the grotesque exterior. This could have been easily done as a pantomime villain but Morris gives this character heart. This does help the audience truly experience the horrendousness of the crime that is committed against him.
Lindquist knows how to keep the tension taunt and he slowly builds to the exciting and bloody conclusion without using tired and tried conventions giving the film a look and feel all its own. Production and sound design are excellent and are top grade without being in your face, they help paint the landscape of the narrative whilst set and photography places the audience into the visual beauty of the piece.
It should be mentioned that using a timeless framing helps bring this forward to a modern audience which is an interesting move considering that Poe normally fits squarely in the gothic storytelling and some films tend to get caught up in this. This often leads to stoic storytelling and sometimes a dated feeling that feels out of touch with a modern audience. Lindquist avoids this and gives modern audience something to rejoice in whilst showing off the flourishes of Poe without getting lost in the text. In fact, he celebrates Poe and highlights him to show that his stories are just as important today as when they were written.
Overall, this is a fantastic and enjoyable film that hits all the marks. The tension is taunt and builds at a good pace, excellent performances from the actors and the team behind the production. A film that delivers on all that it tries to achieve; and more, until its bloody conclusion. The film stays with you long after the end credits play and will haunt even the most hardened genre fans. This film is a triumph and it has made me excited to see what comes next from this very gifted director.
By Ed’s Filmic Forays
August 2, 2020
This is the cause here… It is the beating of his hideous heart.
The Tell Tale Heart, Edgar Allen Poe’s 1843 mini-tale of obsession, murder and mind-shredding guilt, is as Gothic as classic literature gets – a lurid tale with an unreliable narrator who pleads his innocence even while bathed (metaphorically and otherwise) in the blood of his victim. With its blending of crime and horror it’s also a precursor to the pulpy noir stories that first proved popular half a century later. Director McClain Lindquist gets all of this in his deliciously deranged new short, one that retells Poe’s story with a bold and bloody relish that would surely make the 19th century horror master smile.
Sonny Grimsley plays The Narrator, a modern take on Poe’s murderous protagonist, but one psychologically rooted in a bygone pre-forensics era. Like the literary character he’s carer to an elderly man who he claims to love and knows to be good, meanwhile being driven mad by a fixation with the ailing gentleman’s vulture-like eye. When two detectives investigate reports of ‘screaming bloody murder’, they are welcomed by a man whose mannered grace belies gnawing guilt, along with a mortal terror that no deed – however wicked – can lay to rest.
Lindquist’s best decision here is to embrace pure madness with every neatly structured frame and every precisely integrated sound of his devious little movie. The mansion in which the blood-letting occurs is Gothic to its foundations (the Knives Out family home sprang to mind), with richly detailed interiors and a glossy cinematic sheen that shows to best effect the classiness and the gore. But it’s what he and his team do within their precision-designed setting that provide this short with its uncanny edge.
It’s all about the psychology here – whether the antique clock-tick that has arguably driven our narrator deranged to begin with, or the visceral images that haunt him in the aftermath of his grim act. This simple story has been crafted into a dark and probing study of insanity, shot through with moments of pure horror. Lindquist knows every cross-cutting, shadow-casting trick in the genre playbook and uses them to juicy effect, tossing in a few unique visual flourishes of his own. He also understands when to let the camera linger at visually unsettling moments, and has the practical effects at hand to back it up. It’s all steeped in a disorienting soundscape too, one that compliments Grimsley’s enjoyably ripe and glowering central performance.
The Tell Tale Heart (2020) takes all that makes classic Gothic horror so enjoyable – its melodrama, it rich symbolism, its deep-dive into the murkier realms of the human psyche – and cranks them up full-volume. It’s also got a deviant sense of fun in keeping with its narrator’s sheer delusion. Twenty minutes inside this guy’s head makes for a deliciously shuddering nightmare. It also bodes well for these filmmakers’ futures – in horror or wherever else they choose to ply their cunning craft. They know their movie grammar well, and use it to deliver a story as pulsing with menace as the words Poe once inked onto his page.
Review can be found at: https://filmicforays.blogspot.com/2020/08/short-film-review-tell-tale-heart.html
By Ghostman & Rivera
July 18, 2020
Review can be found at: https://youtu.be/5W5VmWusWLE?t=3026