Director – John Hale
Starring – Jason Turner (Withered World, WIH Massive Blood Drive PSA 2016), Rachel Stefursky (The Grave Caller, Meadow Bridge), James Michael Shoberg (Corpsing, Fetish Dolls Die Laughing), and R.J. Campbell
Release Date – 2018
Rating – 4/5
Sometime ago some of my friends on social media started tagging me in a crowd funding campaign put together by aspiring filmmaker John Hale. Apparently Hale had attended the same college as me and we had mutual friends but we never met. I looked over his campaign and I immediately respected the man. He was trying to raise funds for a short using practical effects and paid homage to little creature features like Critters, Gremlins, Puppet Master, and so on.
I started speaking with Hale online and I immediately picked up on his excitement and passion for the project. This became contagious and I was excited to see what he was going to give viewers. As time slowly moved on Hale would tease us with little images and behind the scene footage that made me want to punch him in his rectum. The images looked fantastic and this teasing shit was getting old.
Last weekend I was in attendance at Causacon and the film was finally having it’s premier. Hale was able to pack the screening room and when the film was over he received a standing ovation. I’m glad I was patient and made it to the premier instead of kicking Hale’s ass for teasing us.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows a young man who has to fight to stay asleep. He is taking harmful products to stay awake but every time he falls asleep a portal to another dimension opens and strange beasts appear. He has been dodging his girlfriend for fear she may become another casualty but her stubbornness leads to her finding herself in the middle of his beastly battle with creatures not of this world.**Spoiler Alert**
The Conduit is one of those films that is for fans made by fans. Luckily, Hale is a fan of the same kind of horror films as me so I was able to really appreciate what he brought to the table.
The acting in this one is great. The film’s lead, Jason Turner, delivers one hell of a performance. His character and demeanor reminded me a lot of Ezra Godden in the 2001 adaptation of Dagon. His character isn’t written to be strong but he is intelligent and Turner does a great job at portraying that on screen. I also enjoyed Rachel Stefursky’s performance. Rachel is a beautiful young lady who is completely natural in front of the camera. Her performance was amazing and her emotions felt genuine. She really needs to look into taking more roles. The indie horror world needs a strong actress like Stefursky.
The story for this one works for a short. It really does but it pisses me off at the same time. This is my review of the film so I’m going to speak my mind. Hale does a great job at giving the world a little creature feature with a running time of around 30 minutes. The story flows very well but the story feels condensed. I see the movie as a drumstick on Thanksgiving. You have your feast before you but you only get one drumstick to gnaw on. There is so much more to this story that we are not told. This really does need feature length treatment with more backstory, character development, and a proper ending with the kaiju.
Finally, this film looks amazing. When I say it looks amazing I mean like Sasha Grey and Erin Brown amazing. The practical effects are fucking fantastic. The puppets are the highlight of the film. They look great and their movement takes me back to the days of watching Prehysteria and Gremlins as a wee Mac. The film also boasts some impressive visual effects that work well for the film. I typically rip apart a no budget film for using visual effects but Hale did a fantastic job. Fans of Tory Haas’ The Neon Dead aka Invasion of the Undead and Dustin Mills will enjoy the combination of practical and visual.
Overall, The Conduit is a love letter to my youth. This film takes the viewer back to a time when bills didn’t matter, work was taking out the trash, and Friday night was for watching horror films on VHS and Mortal Kombat tournaments. I can’t recommend this short enough. Honestly, I hate you if you hate this short.