By The Geek Collector
March 14, 2022
Review can be found at: https://www.instagram.com/p/CbGuQVesh9J/
January 12, 2022
By Vanessa No Spoilers
November 26, 2021
Edgar Allen Poe is a firm favorite for filmmakers as a topic, theme, and device to tell a new story or reimagine the literary version. There is even a Simpsons episode that uses the sound of a beating heart to nurture feelings of paranoia in the throes of being caught. Yet to have broken into feature films, McClain Lindquist’s Tell Tale Heart short film showcases what this director, writer, and producer has to bring to the table. Here he utilizes the narrator as the crux of the story alongside key pivotal imagery from the original short story. Lindquist manages a truly disturbing deep dive into paranoia and madness.
Special effects and set design are on point for a low-budget film of this type. Realistic prosthetic pieces are highlighted by dynamic cinematography that heightens an already polished viewing experience given the performances are also wonderfully solid. Not to mention Det. Tucker played by Taren Turner being a doppelganger for Billy Zane, the story’s retelling follows a man’s attempt to keep a secret before slowly transcending into madness.
A Beating Heart
The narrator, played by Sonny Grimsley becomes paranoid about what an Old Man sees. Wanting him to never see again, he murders him and buries him under the floorboards. The local police force receives an anonymous call about the old man’s welfare and begins to investigate. The narrator serves to convince himself that his actions were justifiable given the old man’s evil eye. But as he attempts to convince the detectives that nothing untoward has happened, his story slowly unravels as a facade of sanity slowly slips away.
Visuals on-screen flit back and forth between reality and what the narrator believes to be true. In this version of the Poe classic, the finale is both a sad a viscerally violent reminder of what happens when guilt meshes with madness.
I give The Tell Tale Heart 4 you can’t hide the truth forever out of 5. 4 Crows out of 5
November 22, 2021
Podcast can be found at: https://open.spotify.com/episode/4rQUXWV1sdMEhxHy8M2iiR?si=h5CKOEhmQ6GeNKtBrX-MrQ&nd=1
By Lauren Spear
November 4, 2021
The Tell Tale Heart begins with a quote from American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow… An interesting choice, right off the bat, as ol’ Poe had an interesting history with Longfellow that was akin to, say, today’s YouTuber dramas or online influencer beefs. Was “The Longfellow War” and Poe’s plagiarism accusations against Longfellow genuine? Was it a publicity stunt to boost reader traffic to Poe’s publication? Or was the truth somewhere in the middle… or nowhere at all?
Within the first ten seconds of McClain Lindquist’s The Tell Tale Heart, with its oddly out-of-place (yet somehow deeply fitting) opening quote, lets you know that you’re about to go on a journey in which you’ll always feel just a tad bit unsure.
“We need the whole story,” a voice says, as the quote fades to a black screen.
Yes, we do! Here’s what I thought of this most-recent film adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe classic short story.
The Whole Story: My Review of The Tell Tale Heart
If you’ve read Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart, you already know what to expect. The short story has already been made into multiple films. It’s been parodied as well — so even if you’ve never read it, you probably feel like you have.
This puts the team behind the 2020 rendition of The Tell Tale Heart at both an advantage and a disadvantage out of the gate. They’re able to streamline the story, knowing that their audience will fill in any gaps (like I said, even if you’ve never read Poe’s work, you know it — like a song you know the beat to, if not the lyrics); but, if they stray too far from the source material, Poe fanatics may get uppity.
But they do have to stray a little, don’t they? If not, this newest adaptation would have nothing to offer us as viewers. If you were happy eating Crunch bars, why would you bother eating a Krackel bar? They’re both milk chocolate with crunchy rice bits, right? The answer is the ratio! Krackel was deemed more delicious than Crunch because the ratio of chocolate-to-rice was superior, delivering a more powerful, more memorable flavor.
Was McClain Lindquist’s The Tell Tale Heart able to strike that balance? Did this film find the ratio between same ol’ chocolate Poe that everyone knows and fresh, crackling bits of new?
Yes. It did.
It was a nice lil treat.
What I Liked About McClain Lindquist’s The Tell Tale Heart:
There was a lot of care put into this film, and you can tell that the source material was well-loved. There are a ton of little details that make The Tell Tale Heart worthy of a rewatch. For example, at around the 10-minute mark, the camera zooms in on a nightstand and you can see pill bottles from Usher Family Pharma and Gold Bug Pharmacy — nods to Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839) and “The Gold-Bug” (1843) respectively.
I also loved all of the practical effects! Chris Hanson (and crew?) did a wonderful job. The visuals in general were very nice and I’d love to see Lindquist and Hanson team up again to do some sort of horror-centric music video!
Newcomer Sonny Grimsley did a fine job as the main character (and had that tell-tale – hah! – smirk everyone seems to get when successfully reading Poe aloud), Mikah Olsen and Teren Turner were great as the law enforcement officers investigating the narrator’s crime (Olsen was especially good and said so much with her facial expressions), and James C. Morris was fab as the old man.
As for the film itself… The closest thing I can think to compare this version of The Tell Tale Heart to is Romeo + Juliet.
Remember when Romeo + Juliet came out in 1996 and people were like “What the heck? Everything is super modern and totally ‘90s, but all the actors are talking all Shakespeare-y!” McClain Lindquist’s adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart is a lot like that.
The bulk of the dialogue, delivered by Sonny Grimsley as the narrator, is straight from the original story. It sounds very old-timey and weird. But the visuals (and lines delivered by supporting characters) are all very modern.
That doesn’t always work and I was admittedly wary at first. However, I think that the odd contrast did work in this case because it added an extra layer of discomfort. It helped remind me that this short story from the 1800s was, indeed, a horror story!
Poe’s work has been around for so gosh darn long that I think many of us have become a bit numb to it. I was given one of those “complete collection” books of Poe’s stories as a tween and was a bit settled into the idea that his words were tame. Not so! Director (and screenplay writer/adapter) Lindquist may have set the story in modern times, but the overall adaptation was extremely literal and pulled straight from the original texts — and the result is hardcore.
When you read or listen to Edgar Allan Poe’s words alone, it’s easy to feel detached from it. Lindquist’s film was a great reminder that dismembering a body in a bathtub is — and always was — a grisly affair. Messy. Gross.
Much like Romeo + Juliet is used to get resistant high schoolers into Shakespeare, I could easily see McClain Lindquist’s The Tell Tale Heart being used to get today’s teenagers into Poe.
What I Disliked About the Film:
There were a few moments that pulled me out of the film. The biggest one was when the detective said, “He likes his room kept this dark? It’s pitch black in here!” when questioning the narrator in regard to his master’s chambers.
I got a bit derailed due to my confusion and had to stop and rewind to get back on track. The room in question was more well-lit than my own! It had a lovely open window with plenty of natural lighting…
I thought, perhaps, I was seeing a bright room because the unreliable narrator was seeing a bright room and he was the one in charge of what I was seeing, but then the narrator also commented on the darkness of the room so then I just felt kinda sad like, “If that’s what’s considered ‘pitch black’ then what kind of utter darkness am I residing in? Do we need a lamp? Wait. We have a lamp but the bulb burnt out… Why didn’t we buy a new bulb?? Do they still make compatible bulbs for that lamp? What happened to the sun? Is winter over yet? What do you mean winter hasn’t even started yet?! Ughhhh… Why…”
But, since the original story also mentions that the room is dark, and the film’s bedroom does appear a teeny bit darker in the glimpses of reality we’re shown (but still very light!), I have a feeling that it was just a small lighting issue in the film rather than a story element. Which was jarring to realize because the film is so well done overall that you kind of forget that it’s an indie film made by a first-time filmmaker!
So, basically, they came in so strong that my expectations were immediately raised above the usual indie film level, but sometimes there were little itty-bitty things that weren’t ultra-polished (like the lighting thing, or a line delivery, etc.) that made me go “HUH?! Oh wait. Yeah. Indie film. I forgot. Carry on then.” (And, honestly, I think most viewers wouldn’t even notice/mind the itty-bitty things… I just get hyperfixated on stuff).
My only other “dislike” is that the screener I watched didn’t have any closed captions. Which, I guess, is pretty typical for a theater-like experience… But I don’t miss theaters. Closed Captions are a pain in the butt to create (I had to write some recently for a video I made), but they’re super important.
However, given the amount of care this team put into making their film, I have high hopes that the official/home release will have CC included! The press kit mentions English subtitles so it’s highly likely that the final version already has that issue taken care of.
Final Thoughts: Go Watch The Tell Tale Heart
I’m always reluctant to do reviews and vastly prefer when someone else steps up to write them instead. But, sometimes, I’m either requested personally (why?!) or I’m the only person available (far more likely hahaha).
Reviews (as well as everything else) are especially difficult for me to do in colder weather. I never ever want my own seasonal anhedonia to crush someone else’s creative dreams, y’know? I always fear my own mood (or lack thereof) will color my opinion of someone else’s art.
Like… How many negative film reviews have been given simply because the critic was constipated that day? Or because they didn’t get enough sleep? Or because the theater was bone-chillingly cold and the person next to them kept making uncomfortably loud slurping noises while scarfing down their deluxe-size nachos with extra queso?? I mean, that last one was a very specific scenario (that’s far less likely in the new age of home streaming), but it COULD happen! And it could result in a pre-disgruntled critic viewing a film through pessimistic eyes… and being far harsher than necessary.
Then again, viewing a film when you’re exceptionally happy can make a critic a lot more forgiving! As can watching something with friends (everything is better when you’re with your friends).
Anyway, that was all just a long-winded ramble to say that when I view films for review purposes, I do my very best to watch them when I’m in a neutral mood (but not apathetic — just kinda mildly pleasant but not numb; but not too happy or too grumbles either) and I watch them alone (so as not to be influenced by others, at least on the first viewing). I try very very hard to be fair.
But, in the end, none of that REALLY matters because it’s still just MY opinion! And not to knock me or anything (I’m pretty okay!) but the opinion that really matters here is your own. If this film — or any other film — sparks your interest, then you should check it out!
In the case of McClain Lindquist’s The Tell Tale Heart, this is all the more applicable — after all, at only 22 minutes long, what do you have to lose?? If you have the opportunity to watch it, set aside one-third of an hour and do so.
Check out their website at TellTaleMovie.com or follow them on Twitter @TellTaleFilm for updates about when/where you can watch The Tell Tale Heart.
Review can be found at: https://horrorfam.com/the-tell-tale-heart-2021-review/
By Roman the Film Lover
July 24, 2021
Review can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNMZG_EArIE
By Haunted Stories
July 1, 2021
The Tell Tail Heart is one of the best concepts I have ever seen. It is a perfect Thriller Short Movie that will allow you to examine madness and wickedness at the depths of the human soul. This movie is based on a psychological tale and is a perfect movie for you if you love horror and thriller stuff.
The video editing, audio effects, the way of presenting, and the concept of present the movie all were perfect. And the best part was about the Narrator. Sonny Grimsley was narrating the movie in such an amazing way that it adds some spooky vibes to the movie.
Overall the movie was amazing and oscar-winning. If you are a horror and thriller movie lover, then this movie will be one of the best movies for you.
Review can be found at: https://hauntedstoriess.com/the-tell-tail-heart/
By Joseph Perry
April 17, 2021
Director McClain Lindquist takes Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” and gives it a modern updating that is true to the source material but adds a new approach in his short film The Tell Tale Heart. The result is a fascinating character study of a narrator who speaks in 19th-century fashion while living in the present day, and who has something weighing heavily on his conscience.
The narrator (Sonny Grimsley) has murdered the long-ailing old man (James C. Morris) for whom he worked as a caretaker. The old man’s vulture-like eye drove the narrator to insanity and his act of murder, and as two police officers (Mikah Olson and Teren Turner) question the narrator about the old man’s whereabouts, putting ever-increasing pressure on him, the narrator does his best to come across as charming and full of civility, even though his affected air comes off as pretentious and offputting to one of the officers. Meanwhile, the narrator’s conscience slowly begins to crack.
Many potential viewers will be well familiar with Poe’s story but Lindquist’s film adaptation, which he cowrote with John Lindquist, serves up some fresh spins on the tale. The juxtaposition of the narrator’s speaking style, which is true to the era of Poe’s 1843 story, and the modern-day, no-nonsense dialogue of the police officers, is one such example.
McClain Lindquist’s vision for this adaptation combines the literary and the visceral, and he does a marvelous job seeing everything through. He heightens the suspense superbly, intersperses the interrogation scenes with flashbacks of what actually happened — including some intense, gory scenes involving sharp metal tools from the kitchen and the toolshed — and shows a keen eye for interesting framing and shots.
Grimsley carries the bulk of the short on his shoulders and performs splendidly. He must convey the arrogance of the smarter-than-everyone-else killer, the false charisma of a man trying to appear appealing as he endeavors to cover up his guilty actions, and the raving lunacy of a madman driven to his limits. Grimsley nails each of these elements in fine fashion.
Currently playing on the film festival circuit, The Tell Tale Heart’s presentation is as good — with crisp cinematography from Joseph Olivas and authentic-feeling set decoration from Lyndi Bone and Michael Frazier — as its story is strong. Both longtime Poe fans and those new to the classic tale will find plenty to celebrate with this short.
4 out of 5 stars
By Luke Barnes
February 28, 2021
Hey Everyone! I recently had the chance to sit down and chat with The Tell Tale Heart director McClain Lindquist, and we chatted all things horror- Poe, Hitchcock and of course the horror films of the 1970s and the 1980s. Be sure to check out my review before reading this, for further context- it is on the site now. I hope you enjoy!
Q: How important were practical effects to you with the Tell Tale Heart?
A: Practical effects were critical to our film. Using tangible special effect makeup was a decision we made right from the beginning. Our love of 1980s horror/Sci-Fi would be the impetus for this nostalgic approach. Respect for the modern masters would be the driving force in their inclusion. The late 70s and early 80s were the high-water mark of practical special effects and influenced us immensely. We harkened to the heady days of amazing films like American Werewolf, The Fly, Alien, The Thing, Howling, Evil Dead 2, and The Blob to achieve a realistic yet surreal tone. Chris Hanson tasked with the special effects department is a wizard and we were blessed to have his expertise and creativity involved from the earliest stages of preproduction.
Q: What is your favourite horror film and who are you influences?
A: I have such a long list! It’s so hard to narrow down to one film. But here are a few… The Exorcist, The Shining, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, Psycho, Deep Red, The Beyond, Shock, Hellraiser, Texas Chainsaw, Halloween, Train to Busan, Night of the Living Dead, Jaws, REC, Descent, Funny Games, Carnival of Souls, The Skin I Live In, Cape Fear, Devils Backbone, Jacobs Ladder, Poltergeist, Babadook, The Ring, Let The Right One In, Carrie, Suspiria, The Others, 28 Days, Dead Alive, but if you had to pin me down and say one movie it’s… Evil Dead 2!
Q: Sequel ideas?
A: I have already parlayed or rewritten the (sequel) full length version into two distinct screenplays. I have no interest in doing a follow up film for The Tell Tale Heart. So I pilfered my own ideas and applied unused aspects from my original script to the new stories. Both of the scripts are also based on Edgar Allan Poe short stories. The Cask of Amontillado and The Black Cat. This trilogy of short films (including Tell Tale) would work splendidly within a movie anthology of Poe shorts. My full-length film fit perfectly amongst those two intense stories. So I just transplanted settings and characters to fit the narrative. It worked surprisingly well and came together very quickly and easily.
Q: How did you get into filmmaking?
A: I was tasked to write, direct and produce the music videos for my band Bass Mint Pros. We shot our first music video in beautiful Death Valley National Park. I took to the entire process of filmmaking very quickly and shortly thereafter I was shooting local commercials, musical/political spoofs and then web based serials. Being a cinephile and film buff, making a movie was the next logical progression.
Q: What are your thoughts on modern horror?
A: I have a deep love for the genre of horror. My favorite horror movies are the Universal Monster classics. As time passes sadly even the amazing genre films I grew up on are now considered outdated and vintage. Like all art forms it must change and grow, or it becomes stagnant and then dies. In my opinion modern horror is incredible. It’s the next logical step. I find this new wave of heady horror hounds to be most invigorating. It’s really refreshing to see the next batch of filmmakers having a sense of cinema and apply elements of art house to their films. Watching new perspectives has been eye opening. I want to see films from all cultures that represent a new and yet unseen viewpoint. I am also pleased with the style and bold experimentation in their vibrant films. I love the depth and emotional power of these trailblazers. Elevating the art form could never be (and should never be) seen as a negative element when it comes to the evolution of scary films around the world.
Q: Which do you value more when making a horror film, scares or atmosphere?
A: Atmosphere without a doubt! Ninety percent of horror is generated through atmospheric dread. The vast majority of atmosphere in cinema is created by gaffe or lighting. Pace, setting and tone are all vital to instil a spooky ambiance as well. As strange as it seems being “scared” is not critical. Everyone has different responses to fright. However I personally love jump scares and want the audience of my films to most definitely feel fear and become afraid. Fear is such a fascinating response to me. Fight or flight can be achieved without cheap scares if you carefully take the time to build up to the intense moments. Let the audience create the ambiance within themselves. It’s a litmus test of sorts. Don’t undercut the imagination and creativity of the viewer. They might just surprise you!
Q: Do you have any fun production stories?
A: Too many to count! Fun is the perfect word to encapsulate our production. If you aren’t having fun why even create art? We have three rules to our film productions. 1. BE SAFE! (No one should EVER get hurt making a movie) 2. Work hard! (Duh!) and 3. Have FUN! It’s hard to think of any element that wasn’t incredibly fun while making this movie. It was very upbeat and jovial on set. Lots of light-hearted inside jokes abound. I was usually the butt of everybody’s joke and was pranked endlessly each and every day on set. I got them all back, however. When we watched the trailer at the wrap party I purposely had the file slow down and go into buffering mode. It was hilarious to watch them all squirm. Revenge is dish best served… COLD!
Q: If you were to describe the production in one word what would it be?
Q: If you could meet and chat to any living or dead filmmaker who would it be?
A: Living – Martin Scorsese / Deceased – Alfred Hitchcock.
Q: If you won an Oscar who would you thank?
A: I would have the shortest speech in the history of the Oscars and beat Joe Pesci by one word. I would simply say… “Thanks!” However… I dedicated this film to my two beautiful daughters. I love them more than words could ever express, and they would be first and foremost on my mind.
Q: How important was Edgar Allan Poe’s influence over the film as a whole?
A: Edgar Allan Poe’s immense influence permeated throughout the entire process of the making of this film. From my brother nailing his voice in the dialogue to Janelle Corey’s costume design which we used Poe as the model. All the way down to Nikki BreedLove’s hair style which was styled in the vein of Edgar. Hell even Lyndi Bone’s set design was also inspired by the venerable Mr Poe. We wanted to respect him and his vast influence completely in our short film. This is his story. We are just tourists merely visiting his macabre world. I hope he would approve and appreciate our deference to his lasting legacy.
If you are interested, you can check out The Tell Tale Heart on the festival circuit right now! Or own in on VHS tape by ordering it from Telltalemovie.com