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 Mar Garcia
July 16, 2020
I feel there are a lot of things to say about this film. Before I submerge under details, I must say I deeply enjoyed this short film.
Firstly, I must congratulate Lindquist for being this brave. I don’t think many directors can take nothing less than an Edgar Allan Poe’s piece and succeed. He did.
Although most horror fans are going to LOVE this film, it never loses the romantical, gothic brush stroke so typical from Poe. The scenes are very intense, filled with sensorial elements such as percussions, music with an undertone of sorrow which reminded me of the gothic musical wave appearing in the 70’s.
The director perfectly knows where he wants you to focus your attention and he thrives on hypnotizing you, making use of strong pulsations; bright red, thick blood; sudden jumps of the scene, that maniac sight of the narrator (SONNY GRIMSLEY) or the old man (JAMES C. MORRIS)’s lost mind which, even already knowing the storyline for being a classic, you still wonder what might be thinking behind those white-veiled exhausted eyes.
I appreciated the combination of modern touches (such as the head-shaking of the protagonist) and nostalgic, old school winks as the dramatical dialogues or the close-up views.
I also can imagine some people might feel the characterization of the old man might be a bit excessive, but in my opinion, that is a poetic license by Lindquist. Which is perfectly performed and it doesn’t disturb the harmony of the film’s aesthetics at all.
After all, we are talking about Poe’s writing. Gothic elements MUST be present.
The cast played brilliantly their part, including TEREN TURNER who I was so pleased and surprised to find in this film. MIKAH OLSEN, police officer, brings the modern touch to the story, incarnating the one who faces our maniac to discern what really happened.
What happened… stayed forever lost in the narrator’s mind. Not to mention how amazingly performed is the psychopathy and paranoia from this character. He is completely gone, and wanders off along the movie with a tortured psyche, swimming between reality and delusion, passionate devotion to his handcraft and hate.
My most sincere congratulations to THE TELL TALE HEART’s team, from costumes, and makeup to performing, setting, decor, lighting and depth. I don’t usually find pieces which I enjoy so much, and I would definitely be game for a longer version where the narrator’s dementia could even be more developed.
Review can be found at: https://www.theboldmom.com/horror-film-review-the-tell-tale-heart-directed-mcclain-lindquist/
By Eff Your Review
July 11, 2020
What is Tell Tale Heart – Short Film about?
Tell Tale Heart is a Short Horror Film Directed by McClain Lindquist in 2020 adapted by an Edgar Allan Poe written piece. The short film is about a narcissistic psychopath who looks after and cares for an older man at his mansion. The old man cares deeply about his carer, however something dark within the mind of his carer isn’t able to return the same amount of love back. The carer experiences deep paranoia and suffering about the old man’s eye, which only grows stronger and stronger. What happens in this mansion behind closed doors? Could anyone be in any damager? Watch the Tell Tale Heart Short Horror Film to find out!
Would horror lovers enjoy this film?
Yes! We have seen hundreds of horror films, but this one blew us away. The jump scares were used appropriately, the suspense was correctly built up and the cinematography was breath-taking. If you love horror films you are going to want to see the Tell Tale Heart Short Film. One issue that we have found with this short film is that we felt that it could have been a little bit longer. There are only a number of short films that we have felt this way towards, so that is certainly a compliment rather then a complaint. The paranoia that was shown within the main character could have been stretched out and if this was a full-length film then we can imagine that being a fascinating part. To show this level of anxiety building until the final breaking point. Other then that, we truly loved it! We can not wait to see more of the work directed by McClain Lindquist in the future. In short, the Tell Tale Heart was petrifying! A bloody horror ride that you’re going to want to take!
Review can be found at: https://www.effyourreview.com/tell-tale-heart-short-horror-film/
By Jared Charles
July 6, 2020
Descend into Madness…
In my professional opinion, there isn’t ever a bad time to delve into a good horror story. Fortunately, I happen to stumble upon these gems quite often. This time, it’s a short film with the aim of reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic story, The Tell-Tale Heart. The visual representation of Poe’s original writing is done justice; and boy, will it work for your own evil, horror-loving eyes.
First-time director, McClain Lindquist, and art director, Lyndi Bone, work in tandem to deliver a terrifying exploration of madness. Perhaps, the most notable elements of The Tell Tale Heart rest upon the visual landscape and the panic-inducing edits that the film offers. Joel Petrie and Raymond Delmar use many different montage tricks in the editing room to keep the tension to a maximum; transitional dissolves and intercuts at the slash of a sound, to name a few — all in service of disorienting the viewer about when, and where, the story is taking place. With a run time of only 22 minutes, these edits aren’t over-played, either.
Speaking of behind the scenes, The Tell Tale Heart‘s crew should be given high praise for their work in the make-up and visual effects department, as well. When the set design, make-up, and practical effects culminate to create the razor-sharp atmosphere, almost nothing else can go wrong. It is also worth noting that the film’s soft color palette establishes the timelessness to the story, all while being equally proper and disgusting. Lindquist’s background in music allowed him to clearly define how the mood was to be conveyed with every frame: from the subtle riffs of guitars — to the droning bass of eerie synthesizers. Consistency is apparent across every department.
Perhaps, the only critique is the often overly melodramatic dialogue, and the equally melodramatic performances. If the aim is to have fun (and be equally entertained and terrified), then the execution of the storytelling here is wonderful. However, this reimagining loses the subtlety of the original source material. Gone are the days of suspense and longing for answers; here, Lindquist makes certain to the audience that the Narrator has lost his mind. Though, I fully acknowledge that was the original intention behind Poe’s work, too. It’s a very slim issue to pick, and everything else is flawless.
If you are like me, then you love gothic literature — on the page, on the screen, or wherever you can find it. Lucky for you, The Tell Tale Heart is another excellent addition to the genre and it’s relatively short run time will leave you itching for more. It is about to take a lap around the festival circuit, but the trailer is available for viewing below.
Review can be found at: https://theburrowreviews.com/2020/07/06/short-film-review-the-tell-tale-heart-2020/
By The Flemish Seth
July 6, 2020
First-time filmmaker McClain Lindquist takes a huge risk by adapting one of American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic Edgar Allan Poe‘s short story ‘The Tell Tale Heart‘ – and succeeds. For those who are not familiar with the story, the film follows the Narrator (played by Sonny Grimsley), who is haunted by the “evil eye” of the Old Man (James C Morris) whom he cares for. Accused of murdering the Old Man, the Narrator gets questioned by Detective Tucker (Teren Turner) and Officer Sharpe (Mikah Olsen). What follows is a journey into the manic mind of the Narrator.
Lindquist does a phenomenal job, and knocks it out of the park from the very first minute. He jumps right in, which is necessary when you want to tell a story in a short amount of time (22 minutes, in this case) and takes the viewer on a one-way trip to the depths of hell. Literally every single technical detail is tuned to perfection – from the thrilling sound design/editing, to the gruesome visual effects and bloody intense score. There’s this one extremely satisfying shot, after the Narrator drops a knife into the floorboard and a streak of red light reflects onto the ground and the weapon, as if it’s warning both its future victim and the viewer.
If you really want to nitpick, you could say the prosthetics to create the Old Man are a bit too gimmicky, but the small cast’s impressive acting and Lindquist’s attention for detail make up for that. Any film could seem worrisome when it seems you’re relying too much on a narrator, but not in this case. The Narrator tells the story, while in the meantime letting you focus on the short film’s fast editing and for the mood of the film to take its time to creep in. Beware, because ‘The Tell Tale Heart‘ isn’t for the faint of heart, combining visual and psychological thriller elements, also including a single unexpected jump scare that’ll make your ticker either go faster or end up flatlining.
Delivering a perfect short film, it is exciting to see what the cast and crew create next. Everyone who’s worked on this deserves a standing ovation. As an introduction to Edgar Allan Poe’s work, it would be interesting to see a full anthology series based on the man’s stories with the same talent attached in front and behind the camera.
Review can be found at: https://intoscreens.com/2020/07/06/short-film-review-the-tell-tale-heart/
By All the Horror
July 6, 2020
Adapted from Edgar Allen Poe’s orignail text, this original psychological thriller story has been re-imagined in this mind-bending, pulse-pounding, bloody-disgusting short film.
Following the Narrator (Sonny Grimsley), who is haunted by the “evil eye” of the Old Man (James C Morris) 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 (Teren Turner) and Officer Sharpe (Mikah Olsen) come to inquire about the old man’s whereabouts the Narrator’s frail mind begins to unravel.
It is an interesting juxtaposition of the classic tale in a modern setting, The anachronisms of the costume design and dialogue work well and give the film a unique look and feel that make The Tell Tale Heart Short Movie a pleasure to watch.
Review can be found at: https://allthehorror18.wixsite.com/event/featured-creator
By Midnight Movie Mama
June 27, 2020
“Art is Long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating,
Funeral marches to the grave.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Tell Tale Heart starts with the poem of Longfellow, which we all can appreciate pertaining to this infamous story. Much appreciated is the retro-yet-recent feel of the movie. It is something to behold. We follow the caretakers journey in this short film caring for an old man, murder, and a descent into complete madness. Everything one could love about one of Poe’s infamous thrillers, really.
From the very start we can see that the old man’s caretaker has a problem with the old man’s “evil” eye. Although he admittedly loves the old man, this evil eye haunts him and I have to say, it would probably haunt me too. Our caretaker believes that he can actually see hell in the old man’s eye. While the prosthetic used for the facial features of the old man is apparent, it is not so jarring that it takes away from the story, nor the ever important evil eye.
The overall cinematography and acting was good. The glibness of the caretaker is both annoying and amusing. There is a retro-aesthetic for our detective and the female police officer working with him is a spitfire. They are a wonderful clash of an old school Hollywood detective and a modern day strong police woman. As they investigate they cannot seem to get a straight answer out of the riddlesome caretaker, especially as he begins to delve deeper into his own madness.
I would again say that the stroke of genius comes with that of the caretakers unraveling as he is interrogated. Once we get a glimpse as to what he has done, it is only a matter of time before his sanity starts to unravel before our very eyes. What originally brought the police into this matter? Screaming. Who was screaming? The caretaker.
I found the ending to be perfectly fitting for the movie. The caretaker has gone completely mad, alone in a room with the knife he used to stab the evil eye with.
Overall this short was an entertaining take on one of my favorite works of Poe.
Review can be found at: https://horrornerdonline.com/post/622094433581711360/horror-reviews-thetelltaleheart-the-tell
By Bad Movie Night
June 24, 2020
Review can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Vky7SfsCqw
By Phillip Wilcox
June 23, 2020
In 1843 author Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Tell-Tale Heart was published. I first read it in the 9th grade, and as being the angsty teenager I was, gravitated toward darker literary material. That is when I found the work of one Edgar Allan Poe.
I feel like the mainstream public would be mostly familiar with his story The Raven. But as his writings may mainly deal with grief, loss, tragedy and madness, The Tell-Tale Heart I felt was the most maddening of his works as it told the story in a first person narrative of a man whose sanity is unraveling whilst confessing to the murder in such grisly fashion of the Old Man that is under his care.
The Tell-Tale Heart is one that is filled with guilt…
First time director McClain Lindquist has captured and respectfully preserved the essence of Poe’s story, maintaining the original text for the narrator (played brilliantly and fearlessly by Sonny Grimsley), all the while injecting strikingly beautiful and brutal images to accompany the storytelling with such immaculately hypnotic and disorienting editing.
I dare not even think to go on without mentioning the Special Makeup FX Team and their work of such gorgeous grotesqueries on display. They really made those close up shots worth every second to be seen.
There have been other adaptations of this story. But this one stands out on its own, with a spotlight of its own, never thinking to share in anyone else’s. And I respect the hell out of that. Watching 20 some odd minutes of this story play out in the hands of this cast and crew was like breathing in new air.
Review can be found at: https://philthemovieguyreviews.wordpress.com/2020/06/23/the-tell-tale-heart-a-review/
By Erica Richards
June 19, 2020
If you are not familiar with the works of the famous Edgar Allen Poe, the first thing you should know is his material is not for the faint of heart. Poe almost always discusses extremely dark themes surrounding murder and horror. His work has influenced many films and directors throughout history, whether it be an actual remake of Poe’s work or just inspiration from it. The Tell-Tale Heart is Poe’s story: a narrator attempts to justify his sanity to the audience while, at the same time, recounting a murder the narrator committed. Twisted, unnerving, and gorey, this version was still very much Poe-esque.
Basically, the narrator is a young man who is the caretaker of an unrelated elderly man who he eventually murders with a knife, Psycho-style. The police officer and detective question the narrator in an attempt to get him to confess, while the audience experiences the narrator’s delusions surrounding the murder. We see his gruesome attack intercut between the current discussions with the police officer and detective. The pace is even and all the parts of the story and visuals come back around and get tied up like a nice bow.
The special effects, makeup, editing, and cinematography are fantastic. There are multiple times throughout the 20-ish minutes of this short film where I thought to myself, “This is high-quality production.” But still, somehow, it as a whole falls short. The unmatched attire and persona of the characters felt awkward–it was unsure if it was meant to be set in a modern day era because the only character who fit that mold was a police officer in a standard, recognizable uniform. It felt confusing and out of place against everything else. The house looks like it was straight out of an Agatha Christie novel, except for the modern day cars parked in the front yard. The detective, narrator, and old man seemed to be from a period piece. The writing seemed almost pretentious, as if it was trying too hard when it didn’t need to.
I understand and appreciate an attempt at something different; a remake of a classic that has been remade time and time again. However, I think if this version of The Tell-Tale Heart would have chosen a modern direction and stuck to it, it could have really worked. Instead it is an extremely visually appealing and gruesome horror story that packs a lot into a short timeframe, yet just slightly misses the mark. All of that being said, I still very much enjoyed it and was fully entertained.
Review can be found at: https://www.crpwrites.com/thetelltaleheartshortreview