Sally Ann Watkins (2010)

Sex :
Violence :

Director Dave de Vries
Writers Dave de Vries
Starring Tamara Shinners, Terry Rogers
Genre Urban Nightmare
Tagline Desperate Housewives meets Pulp Fiction
Run Time (minutes) 7:10


“I really liked you in Nasty Slut Girls From Mars” - Man

Taking time out of his busy schedule of making excellent dark genre feature length movies and promoting the multi award winning Carmilla Hyde Dave de Vries presents us with a short to keep the Camilla wolf from the door. Okay I'm calling a dark genre short here as it's home invasion, a recurrent nightmare for a lot of people. Actually it's more of a shaggy dog story with a nice twist in the tale that had me laughing out loud. As stated elsewhere there's plenty of room in the dark genre Manse for all sorts of things. Hopefully I've at least convince myself here, so moving along.

Director de Vries kicks off his short with the sort of middle class scene that brings a tear to the eye of Studio Producers working on day time soaps. A woman is making the bed in what is clearly your affluent upmarket styled house. We have some bright music playing (“I Feel Used” - Damnzal, really dug that song), and at any moment you expect some polishing product placement to pop up. There's a knock at the door, which the woman answers, and kapow we are into urban nightmare territory. De Vries switches tack through 180 degrees with a darker look to things, was that a clash of thunder? - and things take a decided turn into the surreal with our housewife tied to a chair and being checked out by a gun wielding home invader! Seems gunman, who may have more on his mind than most people are going to be comfortable with, thinks the titular Sally Ann Watkins, our housewife in the Martha Stewart mode, is a porn star named Amber Waves with over twenty skin flicks to her credit. Seems Amber owes the gunman's Boss some cash or ran out on him. The short gets even more warped and twisted from there, I'll leave it to the reader to hit the punch lines for themselves. Thankfully we avoid the sort of gorenography lesser Directors like Eli Roth mistakingly believe horror is all about in the modern era.

Behind the camera de Vries displays his normal firm hand and ability to keep things focused on what is going down rather than simply throwing camera angles at the audience and hoping something will stick. The short is well paced, delivers it's twists without taking you out of the movie, and there's nothing thrown into the mix simply to extend running time. Actually I do wonder why some short film makers do that as even with digital cameras the meter is running from first frame to last frame. After three viewings of Sally Ann Watkins I think the trick de Vries achieves here is by having visual clues as to where the plot is headed foreshadowing developments, you don't feel anything is coming out of left field. Impressive film making without spoilers marring the surprise twists. Okay stopping right here before adding my own spoilers, watch the movie a few times then tell me how come you haven't dialled into Carmilla Hyde yet.

On the scripting front Dave de Vries has things covered without raising a sweat. The dialogue, although right out of the urban nightmare, is believable and flows naturally without anything breaking down and either of the two characters involved breaking out of their respective roles. As stated above pacing is brisk without the script inserting things because the script needs to. Dave de Vries here delivers a case study in how to write a script to maximise the limited time a short movie has to deliver it's message.

In front of camera it's a two shot deal with Director de Vries getting good performances from his cast. Tamara Shinners (Sally Ann Watkins) is believable as the upper middle class housewife who is taken completely out of her comfort zone but who dials into the whole situation fairly readily without too much persuasion. Terry Rogers (Man) locks and loads on his character reminding me of a young Bryan Brown for some reason.

Things are rounded out with an effective soundtrack featuring “I Feel Used” by Damnzal and Glenn Wagland's “Cosmic Central Elevator Music”. De Vries uses his music selections effectively to match the visuals on display.

I enjoyed Sally Ann Watkins and was suitably happy to have something new by Dave de Vries hitting the market. Fingers crossed this excellent short doesn't hold up work on the current feature under production. As a surreal nightmare with an unexpected twist Sally Ann Watkins more than achieves it's goal of entertaining the audience.

ScaryMinds Rates this short as ...

  Dave de Vries shows he can do the business at any length.