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Review: Ashlea Wessel’s Tick (A Post-Pandemic Vampire Thriller)

Tick is an even more torturous and bleak version of Let the Right One In and Stake Land. Shot under Grumpy Bones Bones Pictures and Post No Joes Productions, and based on the screenplay by Ashlea Wessel, Tick takes place in a small, post-pandemic society where vampires are in hiding or are forced to pay for being who they are. When a whole city street seemingly decides to fight back against the oppressive regime, a young girl is forced into the wilderness on her own and now she must confront all the evils in the world. In a thematic short film from director Ashlea Wessel, the vampires clearly embody the minority, the downtrodden, the misunderstood, while the patrolmen and volunteers represent the bullies and fear mongers. It’s a hard realization, and a point of social commentary, when you realize that – though classified as monsters – the vampires are far from the evil perpetrators in Tick. Ava Close, Alexander De Jordy, Allison Brooks, Brooke Debassige, Tal Zimerman and Kolin Davidson star in this incredible short film that recently screened at Toronto After Dark.

The film’s title, Tick, is the word that humans use in a derogatory sense when speaking of or to members of the vampire community. Although we only get a thirteen minute look into the world envisioned by Ashlea Wessel, it looks like vampires are abiding by the rules and trying to blend in with society. Or, worse, they’re just trying to hide and be left alone. Imagine having that life shattered by violent young men employed by the government, who take your resources and donations while armed with UV light omitting flashlights. It’s no surprise that pockets of vampires would fight back against those who want them locked in cages or killed, so Tick is just as much of a dark thriller and dark drama as it is an action horror film. It strays away from Twilight pitfalls and classic stereotypes to paint a modern version of vampires that all can enjoy. It gives you someone to root for while giving you theme after theme among the angst and bloodshed. Really valuable storytelling from Ashlea Wessel and an impressive performance from the film’s lead, Ava Close.

As a production, Tick was solid. The scores fit perfectly in every sequence and the pace jumped around in climactic ways. It’s picture is crystal clear in the beginning, and dips a bit in quality as the world spirals out of control. My only complaint with the behind-the-scenes work, and with this short film in general, is the way they carried out the light omitting flashlights. The effects just didn’t do it for me, and the vampires showed no sign of pain outside of screaming. Tick was produced by Ashlea Wessel and Kevin Burke, and features cinematography by Wessel and editing by Burke. The duo certainly worked well together, and it’s no surprise that Tick is doing well in the film festival circuit. It’s imaginative, dark as Hell and lets vampires shine as people and as predators. With a nod to world politics between the bloodshed, suspense and drama, Tick is so much more than a common vampire flick. It was superb in its depiction of family, loneliness, and acceptance. Horror with a point, or two. I’ll take it!

Final Score: 7.5 out of 10.

Written by Michael DeFellipo

(Senior Editor)

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