Brentwood Strangler… What can I even say about this short film? One of my notes literally reads, “This is so weird!” With a name like Brentwood Strangler I was expected a title akin to The Hillside Strangler or Maniac; especially when the film’s official press release credited films like Strangers on a Train and Psycho as its inspiration. What I got, however, was a different experience that completely blew my expectations out of the water. Is Brentwood Strangler weird? Hell yes. But different is beautiful and Brentwood Strangler is a mini-masterpiece in story-telling. Read my review below for more details.
Brentwood Strangler is written, directed and produced by John Fitzpatrick. It was co-produced by Sarah Fitzpatrick, Ryan Dillon and Adam J. Yeend with executive producers Jennifer Van Gessel and Nina Friis. Cast members include Jordan Ladd (Cabin Fever, Death Proof, Hostel II), Adam J. Yeend (“Black Box,” Liz & Dick), Maximilian Osinski (“Hollywood Hitmen,” “The Last Ship”), Annika Marks (“The Fosters”), Ryan Dillon (Puppet Master X) and Cameron Daddo (“NCIS: Los Angeles”).
“It’s the holiday season in Los Angeles and women are being strangled to death in the Westwood area; Maggie, a lonely woman goes on a blind date unbeknownst to her that her date is an active and notorious serial killer, The Brentwood Strangler. Is love in the air? Or is Maggie in for the worst (and last) date of her life?”
John Fitzpatrick is a well known independent filmmaker with his previous writing/directing credits including mega-hit short film Skypemare and web-series “Scary Endings.” True to his previous work, Brentwood Strangler is a flawless, high quality production and I’d also like to give some praise to cinematographer Nicholas Kaat here. There’s making a movie, anyone can do that, and then there’s creating a piece of cinema that can pull a reaction from the audience. That is a difficult thing to do. So, while Brentwood Strangler is visually perfect from a production standpoint, it’s also qualify-able as cinema do to the emotional attachments the audience will have with the characters on screen. I expected nothing less from a John Fitzpatrick short film, but, again, this completely blew me away. A cohesive, sold effort where everyone working behind-the-scenes clearly knew what they were doing. What a worthwhile accomplishment for Far From Everything Films.
To address, the emotional connections between the viewer and the audience… Brentwood Strangler starts off as any slasher film would, with the opening sequence of the killer’s latest victim earning her coffin papers. I thought this moment would set the tone for the rest of the short film, but I was dead wrong. Brentwood Strangler is more of a romantic-comedy highlighted by suspense and death, if you ask me. We also get the film from the killer’s perspective (Yeend) and that is a completely underutilized tactic in story-telling. Through this tactic, I think the audience will connect with the killer more than his victims and the survivor girl… who may have a screw or two loose herself. When you show things from the killer’s POV, he comes across as the protagonist; and in this case you want him to find love and his next victim. Caring about the murderer? That’s a new one, but it works here and was fabulously acted on screen.
Christmas horror is one of the fastest emerging subgenres, mostly due in part to the success of Black Christmas (which I think Brentwood Strangler has some nods to) and Krampus. Luckily, this film has the elements of Christmas toned down to a backing track and mild decorations, so it’s possible to enjoy it all year round, especially between the months of November and March when it may be a little snowy outside. This demonstrates expert decision making skills from Fitzpatrick as it gives this short an extra breath of life as it heads to the film festival circuit. It’s already screened twice, bringing home the gold from one festival, and I think it’s going to take home more in 2016. Definitely keep an eye out for it. And, oh, yeah… That reminds me… There’s an eyeball scene where…Yeah… Just watch for it coming up at the Crimson Screen Horror Film Festival in South Carolina on May 13th and at the Phoenix Comic Con in Arizona in June 2016.
A stylish, weird and mysterious short film, Brentwood Strangler is the perfect mix of horror and romance. Well acted and with flurries of gore, it’s a throwback to slashers with a modern twist, if that makes sense. Only points I can take off are for wanting more and having to make sure I didn’t type Brentwood Slasher instead of Brentwood Strangler… which happened like twelve times. Final Score: 8.5 out of 10.