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
By Brian Schell
June 1, 2020
The narrator asks us to see how calmly he can tell the story, as we flash back to see his crime. We all know the famous Edgar Allen Poe story already, so the spoilers here are unavoidable, but it’s still fun.
We see the narrator caring for an old man. He loves the old man, but the old man’s freaky, milky eye really bothers the young narrator. He sneaks into the old man’s room and watches “the eye.” It disturbs him more and more, as he imagines all sorts of terrors behind the evil eye. He eventually snaps and kills the old man. Will he get away with his crime?
With a story this well-known, the fun is in the way the story is presented. The whole dramatic structure of this story is the author’s descent into madness, and Sonny Grimsley pulls it off pretty well. The effects, pacing, and editing are all very modern and it was hard to look away for the length of the film.
It’s interesting that the narrator has a cheesy English accent and does dialog straight from the Poe story, while the detectives and other people just speak normally. The cinematography is really sharp, and the effects are great too. The old man’s rubber face is a little obvious, but it’s not too bad.
They really paid a lot of attention to this, even the credits and the soundtrack are good. Watch this if you’re a Poe fan; watch this if you aren’t— It’s way better than getting buried under the floor!
Review can be found at: https://www.horrorguys.com/short-film-the-tell-tale-heart-2020/
By Daryl Macdonald
May 27, 2020
The Tell Tale Heart is one of Edgar Allen Poe’s best known, most revered tales. It is considered a classic of the Gothic genre, told by a master of that genre. Utilising the idea of the unreliable narrator (maybe one of the first in literature?) to its full extent and awash with the kind of gory, poetic detail Poe was known for, it lends itself well to the medium of film and has been adapted by just about everything from radio murder mysteries to The Simpsons to Spongebob Squarepants.
Here, we have a new take: a punky, blood-spattered thrill ride from McClain Lindquist, whose debut short brings something quite new to the story, while also staying true to the dark, Gothic brutality of Poe’s original work.
MADNESS AND MOCKERY
The story is told through an unnamed narrator who is trying his best to convince the viewer of his sanity while describing the details of the brutal descent into madness that lead to the death of an old man – whose relationship to the narrator is never explained. Any adaptation of this story would live or die on the strength of that narrator’s performance and to its credit, The Tell Tale Heart has an engaging, lively performance from Sonny Grimsley – chewing the scenery with such an infectious madness it’s easy to imagine he had a lot of fun in this role.
Grimsley really – and rightfully – is the scene-stealer here, gleefully expounding Poe‘s words in a mock-Tudor accent with a twisted smile on his face and devilish eyes. It’s an important anchor, because The Tell Tale Heart has no interest in chronological storytelling. Here, Lindquist has gone abstract, imbuing his version with whip-quick transitions and layovers which emphasise the strange madness taking place.
It’s a fun, jumpy ride through the old mansion; the audience is barely given time to digest one scene and its implications before we’re off to the next. In one scene our narrator is grimly regaling us from a dark room, only the barest of outlines visible, the next second we’re in an old man’s bedroom watching him sleep – bloodsoaked images streaking across the screen, the ‘vulture eye’ which drives the narrator mad containing a world of anguish inside. It’s done very well, and has the heart racing (no pun intended).
A BIZARRE WORLD
The madness cranks up as the story propels forward to its inevitable outcome; two police officers arrive on the scene to interrogate the narrator and cleverly the interrogation takes place in multiple locations, adding to the bizarre sense of confusion. The sets are excellent, emphasising Poe’s Gothic style while also evoking a slightly more modern tinge in some aspects. This duality also adds to the atmosphere of confusion; what is real and what isn’t? Special mention should also go to the old man’s make-up, which is something akin to a Jim Henson creation if it were commissioned by Roald Dahl. It is at once unnerving and repulsive, but somehow adds well to the tone being struck here.
The Tell Tale Heart only really has one performance once mentioning, which is that of the narrator. Both police officers and the old man get very little in the way of dialogue; however, what dialogue the police officers do get is somewhat squandered. Mikah Olsen goes for gruff noir and mostly misses the mark, while Teren Turner should have been given more to do as she proves to be the more natural of the two. That said, both actors were lost in the shadow of Grimsley‘s madcap performance in any case but manage to stay afloat in the madness.
Finally, the main set location inside the mansion is excellent – the lighting gives off a creepy, surreal vibe and the exterior shots show the kind of grand, dark abode Poe himself may very well have imagined when he began writing the story himself.
THE TELL TALE HEART: CONCLUSION
Lindquist is, by trade, an undertaker whose love of the horror genre and Poe’s work propelled him to this adaptation. His vision was to do justice to Poe’s story, to create a world worthy of the master himself. With this, it’s safe to say he’s off to a very good start. It’ll be very interesting to see what he comes up with next.
Review can be found at: https://www.filminquiry.com/tell-tale-heart-short-review/
By Dante Yurei
May 26, 2020
When I found out about the existence of this short film I have to admit that I got excited, as “The Tell-Tale Heart” is my favorite short story from writer Edgar Allan Poe. At the same time, some worry grew on me as by adapting any literary piece it is necessary to modify it so that it can be adjusted to the media in which it will be presented and to represent the style of who wants to adapt the piece, The short film “The Tell Tale Heart” is not only a worthy adaptation of an important literary work, but it also enhances all the qualities that make this piece be so terrifying.
After receiving a call from a neighbor, two police officers go to investigate the house where they suspect a murder has been committed. Both agents are received by an eccentric man, who is the caretaker of the owner of the house, a frail old man. While the officers conduct their interrogation, the caretaker breaks under the pressure and reveals a dark secret.
“The Tell Tale Heart” is an interesting delve into the mind of a madman. The plot of the film is narrated from the perspective of the caretaker, who is an unreliable narrator, and something in which the director McClain Lindquist capitalizes on by using time leaps and vibrant or somber cinematography to emphasize on his mental state. This dichotomy is emphasized even more in the way in which the short film is edited and with the excellent use of visuals and sound to accentuate the tension.
This modernization of a classic tale captures the viewer from the start with the voice and vocabulary of the narrator and makes its 22 minutes of runtime fly by. Besides modernizing it and emphasizing its qualities Lindquist introduces his own elements from horror cinema along with a few jump scares so that you cannot distinguish is the thumping you hear comes from the movie or from yourself. Without fear of exaggerating, this short film is the best adaptation available of the classic tale from Edgar Allan Poe and one that all horror movie fans will enjoy no matter how unfamiliar they are with the work of the author.
Review can be found at: https://www.10th-circle.com/2020/05/The-Tell-Tale-Heart-Short-Review.html
By Film Carnage
May 22, 2020
Directed by McClain Lindquist and co-written with John Lindquist, based on the classic Edgar Allan Poe story of the same name. Following The Narrator (Sonny Grimsley), who is haunted by the “evil eye” of The Old Man (James C. Morris) whom he cares for. Descending into madness, The Narrator murders The Old Man, then hides the body under the floorboards. When Detective Tucker (Teren Turner) and Officer Sharpe (Mikah Olsen) come inquiring about The Old Man’s whereabouts, The Narrator begins to unravel.
Opening on Sonny Grimsley introducing his tale of murder feels very Vincent Price 50’s horror inspired, the dark yet charismatic persona with a charming cadence, setting off immediately the question of whether to trust him. Layered on top of that monologue is some very fitting music (by Joel Pack) which impressively moves from a classical style that you’d naturally expect to find with Poe to a much more modern sound, reflecting horror films today. Those two things working together with a simple, darkened background, keep the focus on the lead as he sets the scene, interlaced with flashes of what’s to come and kick things off on strong form, foreshadowing the blend of classic and modern styles that the film uses throughout.
One of the other things that’s quickly clear is the attention to the importance of setting, a few brief exterior shots of a Victorian meets Gothic house, immediately have that air of horror, like the Bates’ or Amityville house, or even the murder house in the first season of American Horror Story, it strikes fear. The other main set being The Old Man’s (Morris) bedroom, it’s well decorated to reflect the period setting, it’s intimate and almost claustrophobic, which perfectly suits the tone. That attention to detail certainly goes through to the physical effects and make-up work, both of which are an art form that can frequently go underappreciated, particularly the latter, so when done well they make a strong impression, which is what you’ve got here. All of which adds up to the fact that the film has hit the nail on the head with its visuals, including a fantastic dolly zoom shot, a reverse shot disappearing below the floorboards and one particular use of lighting to reflect from a knife that’s particularly enjoyable to watch, it’s aesthetically pleasing from start to finish.
Its intensity is ever growing throughout, building the anticipation of that thrilling breaking point and it’s all set upon the shoulders of Grimsley who must portray The Narrator at his best and worst, both of which he does superbly. With the two versions being nicely overlaid to see both innocent and guilty, you get to see Grimsley’s acting skills at work in a very satisfying way and they only get better as the film nears its end. It’s a performance that’s both composed and unhinged, polite and ravenous. The Old Man doesn’t get too much time to really show Morris’ abilities but it’s a solid performance, while the other supporting actors playing the police officers feel more forced, they’re trying a little too hard, resulting in something that feels slightly wooden.
A great achievement of this adaptation is to simultaneously be influenced by the old-fashioned, classic style that the tale comes from and modern horror films, it makes a fusion of styles that works really well with the story they’re telling. It adds a little jump scares, with some gore to plenty of genuine storytelling, a lot of horror films have struggled with combining them all, either falling short on the story or being afraid to use gore, Lindquist has found a great ratio to fit them all together in a way that capitalises on the different elements and doesn’t let any of them disappear into the background. While there isn’t too much you can alter of Poe’s story without losing its signature style, the choices in direction really amplify its atmosphere in a way that feels fresh, avoiding any potential feeling of repetition with a story that’s now almost 200 years old.
Lindquist’s adaptation feels as though it stays true to the original while throwing in a burst of modern style to bring Poe into the 21st century rather than simply trying to tell its tale in a typical or antiquated manner. His direction, paired with Joseph Olivas’ cinematography, provides a fantastic visual throughout with varied shots of consistently high quality which are wonderful to watch. Grimsley provides an excellently fitting voice and persona to The Narrator, beginning with a refined tone then gradually descending into madness. It comes through strongly in the finished product that a lot of care, attention and dedication has gone into revamping a classic story and giving it a satisfying update without losing any of its original quality, making a fitting tribute to Poe’s work. It’s a thrilling, gripping and visually stunning piece of work.
Review can be found at: https://filmcarnage.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/review-the-tell-tale-heart/
By James “Jimmy” Boanerges
May 21, 2020
True Poe, True Horror, Truly Worth Watching
This isn’t a movie that needs to be watched. It is a movie that must be watched, repeatedly. It is a movie that needs to be studied and dissected.
There are a dozen reviews of this film by more qualified sources than this author, proclaiming the greatness of the movie, therefore it is the intent of this article not to critique, rather to express the experience of this fan.
On the surface, it is a brilliant adaptation of the classic Edgar Allan Poe story The TellTale Heart. Unlike so many of its predecessors in film, that dilute and cheapen, this adaption remains true to the intent of Poe’s work: the exploration of homicidal madness and the validity of the legal defense of insanity.
Everyone should be familiar with The Tell Tale Heart, if not, go read all 6 pages of it.
In director McClain Lindquist’s film, there isn’t a wasted scene, an unimportant line, or an insignificant camera angle in the entire film. The pacing is both smooth and breathtaking. The story is instantly engaging, the imagery is captivating, the acting is mesmerizing, and the editing and music are flawless. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this film is the most easily overlooked, that is the blending of Poe’s unique voice into the dialogue of the Narrator in a modern day setting. There isn’t a line uttered by this character that doesn’t sound like Poe himself wrote it—and it doesn’t feel forced. In fact there is a line of dialogue at the beginning of the movie that sets up this anachronism brilliantly.
Upon first viewing the movie, a well-crafted, and worthy story is presented. With each subsequent viewing subtleties emerge that call into question what has been taken for granted. Details that are easily dismissed in earlier viewings come forward to put entirely new twists into what is happening—and what is not. Two areasto watch forare the displays of simple technology (in the background) and the wardrobe of the characters (combined with how each character is lighted). These never mentioned details are key to unlocking just how mad the Narrator might be and give clues to which characters may not exist outside of the Narrator’s warped mind.
This movie is haunting in every meaning of the word. The balance it achieves is unbelievable. Anticipation of the climax is agonizing, yet knowing it will end is worse; there is too much to watch, while not being given enough to see; eyes are glued to the imagery, yet instinct screams to turn away; and the ending is final, while leaving hunger for more.
What Poe did with words, Lindquist does with images. Poe’s work engaged the reader’s imagination and gave it fuel to run wild and dark. Likewise Lindquist’s film embraces the audience’s subconscious fears, and lets loose those nightmares.
Disclosure: while the author was not on the set of this movie, he did participate in a prank by notorious teaser, John Lindquist, and penned a phony letter on behalf of the nonexistent Utah Union of Domestic Workers decrying the exploitation of domestic workers in a satirical slam of so-called watchdog groups.
Review can be found at: https://www.soconin.com/news-1/2020/5/21/the-real-review-of-tell-tale-heart
May 19, 2020
There is something charming and attractive about short films. There is an ingenuity and passion that tends to paint the screen over a small span of time and as a horror fan, I’ve come to see a lot of imagination and interesting effects while I’ve explored shorter works lately. The format brings out the need to tell a concise and engaging story that will leave an impression in less time than your average TV episode. It’s a challenge, and thankfully in the right hands, it can result in some excellent work.
I’ll be the first to admit that The Tell-Tale Heart is not my favorite piece of literature. I studied it to death in school, it’s been referenced in media all over the place- but I’d heard about a short film adaptation that, with some research, looked like a unique experience. Once I was given the chance to check it out for myself, my horror-loving independent film supporting self jumped at it, wary as I might be of the source material.
To be blunt and up-front about it: this is probably my favorite adaptation of the Edgar Allen Poe classic I’ve seen. Staying true to the original premise, the Narrator (Grimsley) explains to the audience through the fourth wall the details of his well-planned and rational decision to murder the master of the house (Morris) that he attends to. It is only when the police arrive (Olsen and Turner) that his guilt begins to unravel his genius machinations.
What makes this version of The Tell-Tale Heart so interesting is the heart- no pun intended- that everyone involved with the final product seems to have put forward. Grimsley bleeds charisma in every scene, and when he’s not busy conspiring with us, his breakdown is sudden due to the nature of the film’s runtime, but it’s satisfying for the viewer and clearly a role he’s relishing as both on-and-offscreen. It’s easy to give him immense credit due to the weight the Narrator has to carry, but the supporting cast deserves a nod, too. Morris does a fantastic job making the Narrator’s victim feel so benign that you can’t help but pity him once the deed is done. You can tell that the investigators, rather than being hapless and cavalier as many adaptations are inclined toward, are driven and not being fooled by the Narrator’s charm or confidence, always an edge of suspicion to their performances.
It’s also hard to believe that McClain Lindquist is a first time director witnessing how stylistic and sharp the entire project winds up. Even knowing how the story concludes, it was hard not to feel the anticipation build and my heart catch in my throat waiting for it. The entire creative team deserves a hand for creating a fascinating piece that strays from its origins just enough to exercise their own creative visions before jumping back on track. An extra enthusiastic thumbs up to the special effects team, though, who make the most of the moments their work is on display to add a shock and punch that’s both unexpected and absolutely delicious for fans of the genre.
In the end, this version of The Tell-Tale Heart is a solid mix of modern and classic storytelling with a strong visual style. At times, it offers an interesting look at the idea of the unreliable narrator while presenting an earnest approach to a well-worn story. While it’s ramping up for festival release, fans of classic and modern horror would do well to keep an eye out for the chance to check it out if it happens into their area.
For more information, check out the project on Twitter (@telltalefilm) or at the film’s website at https://telltalemovie.com
Review can be found at: https://3pstart.com/2020/05/19/the-tell-tale-heart-2020/