★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Steven G. Warkel
Hair-Trigger is modern grindhouse done right! Writer/director Steven G. Warkel’s genre-blending chiller sees a band of criminals — including thief with a heart of gold Jenna (Emily Carlson), war vet and self-appointed group leader Tom (Chris Charais), and hot-headed authority-hater Fredo (Joseph Schwartz) — laying low in a rural house after a major jewelry heist. Things are bound to go wrong because the lawbreakers have unknowingly settled in, as viewers see from the film’s opening sequence, at the dwelling of two extremely violent men who have a penchant for disposing of any and all trespassers in gruesome manners. Warkel helms his feature-length debut with verve, and his cast members all give believable performances in roles that range from people you hope to see survive to others who you can’t wait to see hopefully get theirs. The writing is crisp, the tension runs high, and the balance between crime caper and horror movie is terrific.
★★★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by Dale Fabrigar
Fans of cryptid creature features and well-made independent horror films should have a fun watch with director Dale Fabrigar’s (D-Railed and Area 407) Reeds Point. Sarah Franklin (Sasha Anne) sees her cousin Kelsey (Madison Ekstrand) dragged away by something, rather than someone, after a vehicle wreck in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. Obsessed by knowing what happened and driven by the feeling she has that Kelsey is still somehow alive, Sarah is joined by Kelsey’s boyfriend and fellow university journalism student Alex (Evan Adams) to investigate the area, which is said to be the stomping grounds of the Jersey Devil. The screenplay from Tricia Aurand, the film’s executive producer Suzanne DeLaurentiis, and Sandy Lo serves up some intriguing suspense and surprises, and Fabrigar shows a deft hand at making scare fare work on a low budget. The acting ranges from serviceable to solid, and the practical effects and makeup, including the impressive creature suit, are well rendered.
Reviews by Joseph Perry
Hair-Trigger and Reeds Point screen as part of MidWest WeirdFest, which takes place March 4–6, 2022 at the Micon Downtown Cinema in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. For more information, visit http://www.midwestweirdfest.com/.