24 hour film contests are popping up all around the world. Basically, an organization requires you to write, shoot, edit, and release an entire short film in 24 hours with the winners receiving awards and prizes. This is particularly inspiring to me, as a horror film journalist and an aspiring film-maker, because I can really see people’s hard work, creativity, and passion come to life in such a short amount of time. It’s great to see that English film-maker Peter Mckeirnon has that love of cinema because his latest short film, The Dog Walker, was made in under 24 hours. As he puts it, the script was written in a half hour, filming was completed in five hours, and editing took seven hours. The Dog Walker won’t be released today, like the contests I mentioned above, but it will see its world premiere on September 16, 2017 at the the first screening of The Quacky Slasher, Mckeirnon’s previous venture.
As always, I was treated to an advanced screener of Peter’s new short film, and I have to see that I was intrigued by the plot; and not just because it has to do with a dog. Axel the dog, specifically. Somewhat slightly based on true events, The Dog Walker plays out like a “Law and Order” episode, capitalizing on all the times random workers have discovered dead – murdered – bodies in the woods, parks, swings and roundabouts (see, what I did there, Pete?). The Dog Walker is a four minute murder mystery and tiny, four legged drama. Why was that woman murdered and who committed the crime? Based on the script by Peter Mckeirnon, The Dog Walker stars Neil Gallagher, Sarah Chesters and Andrew Butterworth. It was assistant directed by Kate Dailey and produced under Slumberjack Entertainment.
As a reviewer, I have to say that The Dog Walker is probably my favorite piece from Mckeirnon outside of his zombie web-series “Dead Town.” The simplicity is what makes it a cohesive short film that’s worth watching. Oftentimes, Mckeirnon infuses multiple genres into his scripts and the attempts at being thrilling and humorous often subtract from the atmosphere he’s trying to build. With this one, he keeps it to one genre and two actors and allows the story to grow in an organic and interesting way. It builds from an every day walk in the park to a sinister and surprising ending without going off the rails at any point. Again, simplicity can be key when handled in the right way and Mckeirnon was spot on with the style, story, and direction of this short film.
The Dog Walker is also his best looking short film to date. Maybe due to his assistant director or the “practice makes perfect” mantra, but I have to say Mckeirnon’s camera work is definitely getting better. Besides the presence of shadows during the doorway scene, The Dog Walker looked like a million bucks yet somewhat old-school. The lighting was on point and it mirrored the mood of the movie in a really artistic sort of way. Who knew a movie about a guy walking a dog could be labeled as artistic? Coupled with capable actors and a cute dog, I think this short film is going to receive more attention than any of Slumberjack’s previous releases. I thoroughly enjoyed my viewing. The Dog Walker is a homey, dramatic walk in the park with gore and suspense around the edges. Well done. Final Score: 8.5 out of 10.