“Once Upon a Time” is a fantasy drama series that aired on ABC from October 2011 to May 2018. It was wildly popular during its first five seasons, but it hit a ratings snag that it never recovered from; ultimately leading to its cancellation at the end of season seven. Despite hearing nothing but good things about this show, I never had a chance (or desire) to check it out. So, when the master of all things fan film, Chris R. Notarile, announced that he shot a “Once Upon a Time” fan film, I was a little leery about the content. Luckily, his writing explained important parts of the world created by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, while also letting his own original story flourish in the eleven minute short film titled Once Upon a Time: The Horseman Cometh. And, also, this summary of the film’s plot kind of helps.
“Set before the events of season one, we find the evil Queen Regina has enlisted the help of Yzma to help end the problem that is Snow White. But Yzma has plans of her own, and banishes Regina to a realm without magic. Will Regina be able to find her way back to the enchanted forest before it’s too late? Or will Yzma reign supreme?”
A fan film created by Blinky Productions Inc, Once Upon a Time: The Horseman Cometh is written, directed and edited by Chris R. Notarile. Seth Hise, Jessica Sibinski, Phillip Schwent and Tim W. Wilhelm serve as executive producers, and Diandra Lazor, Edward Kasper, Tess Speranza, Arlondria Lenyea, Matthew Thomas Salling and Caitlin Osborne star. Once Upon a Time: The Horseman Cometh is not your typical film, as it has so many different genres crammed into one eleven minute movie. It’s charming and whimsical, it’s dramatic and funny, and it’s got a strong dose of 1980’s slasher troupes. Perhaps this clever mix of categories is what helped the original series be so successful in the first place, and the tactic is certainly successful here. While watching Notarile’s new project, I felt a piece of my childhood return, when I believed fairy-tales could be real, and my current taste in media – horror – was satisfied as well.
There are three things that I liked about Once Upon a Time: The Horseman Cometh in particular. First, although we’re friends on social media and I can acknowledge her influence in the genre and all things A Nightmare on Elm Street, I’ve never seen Diandra Lazor in action before. Not only does she serve as a diabolical evil queen, but she has the acting chops to back it up too! She’s also a pretty good look-alike for Lana Parrilla. Second, I loved this modern incarnation of The Headless Horseman. Instead of a 1820’s Hessian soldier, he’s pictured as a leather-clad biker whose helmet takes the spot of the legendary flaming pumpkin. I’d like to see a full length adaption of this version, please. Last, Once Upon a Time: The Horseman Cometh has awesome special effects, especially for independent cinema, and they were such an important part of the story; I’m glad they were pulled off with such accuracy and high quality.
Once Upon a Time: The Horseman Cometh releases today on YouTube, the one year anniversary of the series finale. Find it below!