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Short Film & Review: Derek Franson’s Rue

I’m struggling to write this review as an educated person because, for some odd reason, my reaction to being excited by something is to speak/write as if I’m going to be on a rachet reality show on VH1. It’s definitely a contrast to the nature of high school and the institute of education, the location in which Derek Franson’s Rue takes place in. College is fun, but high school is a scary place… even without murderous ghosts. Kids all over the world slowly become adults and are told what to do, how to do it, and what’s right from wrong all while being encouraged to step outside the box and make the decisions for themselves. At the same time they’re awakening in their sexuality, discovering possibly dangerous substances, getting into trouble of all kinds and some poor souls even go down the route of becoming bullies. Yeah, as Rue begins its ten minute journey, I don’t blame the blonde girl for punching the brunette in the face.

Rue follows a late-day detention period that finds two female students biding their time as their teacher tries to reach them on an emotional and philosophical level. Previously in class, students needed to make a speech and recite their report in front of the class, and in one particular instance “reading between the lines” came at the expense of another student and the subtle digs came with a not so subtle slap. No one likes being embarrassed in front of the class… especially by a former lover! The pointed essay and the ballsy assault landed both women in detention, but the girls and their teacher aren’t alone in the dreary school. This town has a legend about a vengeful ghost originally discovered by early settlers. Metaphorical ghosts of the past collide with a nasty, creepy ghost in the present and the school is about to be shrouded in darkness in which it may never recover from. Morgan Taylor Campbell, Brad Dryborough and Sarah Grey star in this unprecedentedly amazing short film from Derek Franson.

I say unprecedented because I wasn’t expecting Rue to be this good. I mean, it’s absolutely phenomenal and as of this writing it stands as my favorite short film of 2017. From start to finish this is an A+, top notch, Hollywood grade picture that will beat the pants off of any other official selection in the film festival circuit. Is Rue dominating that? Well, it’s won an award, but I encourage Derek Franson and his producers to get this gem, this baby, this work of true cinema out there. There’s no reason as to why their efforts should be wasted in a Vimeo upload! I’m going to rattle off people that I think deserve a lot of praise because they’re the ones that made this as successful, scary, and thought provoking as it is. Cinematographer Todd Duym made Rue look like a million bucks and his work is glamorous and professional enough for movie theaters. The visual effects were created by the team at Image Engine Design Inc. and they were flawless and realistic. Editor Kyle Popevich worked equally as flawlessly and cut this short film into a sleek, cohesive product for horror fans. Also, major props to Morgan Taylor Campbell (who can be seen as Harper in the new Power Rangers movie), Brad Dryborough (who can previously be seen in The Cabin in the Woods) and Sarah Grey for bringing their undeniable acting chops to this project.

Derek Franson is going to be a writer/director to watch out for. Rue is proof of that. He was able to accomplish in ten minutes what most feature films can’t do in an hour and a half. He was able to pull emotions out of me, as a viewer. He drafted a script that was layered, thematic, thought provoking and metaphorical. He even created a brand new monster movie ghost that I’d love to see explored in a bigger way, which I think is going to be the case in the future. Rue is an independently produced short film, but it speaks volumes about the quality of a film when the right cast and crew are on board. Even the chairs moving. How was that even done? Rue was incredible and I hope you guys give it a watch below. It’s definitely worth the ten minutes of your time. It’s an expertly crafted horror story with metaphorical elements just as scary as the action on screen. It’s Pretty Little Liars meets Silent Hill. I loved it so much I even gave it a 10 star rating on IMDB. My score is going to be the same here, too. Final Score: 10 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)