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
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/