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Esper (2015)
Tonight's Short Presentation

ESPER (2015)

Starring: David S. Hogan, Angela DiMarco, Hans Altwies

Written By: Todd Downing Directed By: Tony Tibbetts

See It Here: youtube.com/watch?v=4zZkDw4RQqI


The Story

Kyle (David S. Hogan) and Valerie (Angela DiMarco) are a couple on the rocks.  Kyle has “visions,” but he won’t let Valerie in on them, and it looks like she’s had enough of living with being left out.  Then the doorbell rings.  It’s a guy (Hans Altwies) with muffins.  Hey, Kyle: do you know the muffin man?  Care to take a psychic stab at whether or not he’s got good intentions?  Yeah, thought so…


The Rundown

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

ONE PORT WINE CRACKER.

Well, that was over quick!


Pairs Well With...

A DECENT 3 OZ. BEER.

Wait, shouldn’t there be a lot more of this?


“Tell her, Kyle.  What’s happening?”


Some short films are little more than demo reels.  Some short films are spontaneous larks.  Some short films are fully contained stories with beginnings, middles, and endings.  And then there are short films like Esper.

Esper is a short collection of pages torn out from the third act of a much larger tale.  The beginning and the middle happen long before the audience gets there, and the ending occurs some time after the closing credits roll, when the audience isn’t allowed to peek anymore.  It’s fair to say that some viewers are likely to find this kind of narrative construction to be rather infuriating.

As for me, acknowledging a bump along the way… I think it’s cool.

The film begins uncomfortably - not a bad thing in a horror flick - introducing the audience to a couple that is so on edge with each other that one quickly wonders if the future of this relationship is measurable in weeks if not mere days.  Kyle's apparent psychic visions (or delusions, for all the audience knows at that point) are an obvious plague to him, and his scoffing (or perhaps just fed up) significant other gives one last token effort before switching back to being about as supportive as a wet noodle, possibly for good.  It takes no effort at all for the audience to imagine hours and months of shouting, broken crockery, and shattered electronics that must have occurred before the movie's action started.  Combine that domestic discomfort with the creepy image of a severed digit, and the result is unsettlingly effective.

What happens next is less so.  Creepy man at the door is creepy; we get it.  Yup; we still get it.  Got it a few sentences ago, thanks.  Okay, now even the lady on screen is annoyed, possibly because the tension created by the film's opening scenes has quickly dissipated down to dangerous watch checking levels.  Then Kyle dashes off outside because the plot requires him to not be around for a while, but the camera apparently doesn't get the memo because it keeps cutting back to him standing out in the yard looking both befuddled and aware of impending doom all at once.  (I'll gave David S. Hogan kudos for doing his best to make something out of nothing here; but really, his character is only on screen so the camera has something to cut back and forth to while the lady of the house does more important things, like take a horror movie shower.  Oh, now we're getting somewhere again...)

This is usually where I make the mental coin flip: opening was good, next part dragged, so which will the ending live up to?  I've seen enough of these to generally consider "tails" the safer bet, but in the case of Esper, I'm familiar with other work the writer and the two leads have done in the past, so my brain chose "heads."

I won the toss, and that means you did, too; you lucky audience in waiting, you!

I hesitate to call what happens next - which I'm not going to spoil for you - an ending, mainly because the credits cut in before the place where the climax usually goes.  But there definitely is a concluding crescendo, and for me, that's a great way to handle this particular story: finishing off with a ton of newly spawned questions instead of tying up neat little answers.  Just who are these people anyway?  Do we have one villain here or two?  What exactly did happen during all of those earlier pages in the book this movie was torn from that we didn't get to see?  Esper doesn't tell you; instead, it lets you and your imagination decide!  Again, for a lot of audiences, this type of storytelling will come across as frustrating, but for me, it's a creative gamble that comes up aces. 

Bottom line, if you've got eight minutes, it's worth your time to click the link above and have a look at Esper.  If you're into horror that doesn't give you all (or even half) the answers, it's a rewarding flick; but, if it ends up leaving you frustrated... hey, you could always take a shower afterward.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, February, 2015

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