Reviewbr> “Tell that to the girl in The Exorcist” – Julie
Julie has a long night ahead of her baby sitting some kids, who are remarkably quiet and I assume asleep upstairs somewhere. She is whiling away the time chatting to a friend on the phone and completely ignoring the pair of hamsters being cute in a cage surprisingly located in the lounge room. Naturally Julie's boyfriend Karl arrives complete with an Ouija game box as Julie is hot to hit the spirit world communications thing. Karl being a bit of a wuss has elicited not to bring the actual game board along, maybe he's caught a few horror movies in his time.
Naturally Julie makes do with a kids game, hey anything to go supernatural in a pinch, and under her urging Karl, who is dripping blood from a cut finger, recites what he thinks is a nonsensical verse picked up from some playing blocks locate nearby. Unfortunately Karl has summoned a demonic entity that immediately possesses the hamster duo! With the forces of hell unleashed in rodent fury Julie and Karl have to somehow stop the mother of all pest infestations.
Director Paul Campion, here hitting out with his first short, has currently finished shooting the New Zealand feature length horror movie The Devil's Rock, so I thought it might be time to check out his earlier work. Notably Campion has worked as an artist on the sets of some major productions in his time, (LOTR trilogy, Constantine, Sin City, Night At The Museum, etc), so interest was high in what he could bring to the Directors chair. Unfortunately Night of the Hell Hamsters pretty much has zero in the way of budget but Paul Campion goes at it like a younger Peter Jackson and doesn't take things too seriously. Which is a good thing given the title and content.
Campion is for sure making a B grade creature feature but settles his production into some horror references to keep the Audience amused as things go demonic on us. There are ample references to The Exorcist (1973), a whole Evil Dead (1981) vibe going down, and I picked up on a wink at JC's The Thing (1982). There's probably a bunch more that I could mention, including a wildly amusing Night of the Lepus in the intro, but hey lets just say Campion is pointing out to the Audience that he has been around the dark genre and knows how things die, generally in a gruesome blood drenched fashion. I can dig that! Best line of the short has to be “Your boyfriend sucks cocks in hell!”. Now that's meta, take note Wes Craven.
In terms of style Campion hits the pace button and keeps the almost cartoon level violence rocking as things heat up. The creature aspects are more than adequite for the short, and I got to say the score is a winner on all fronts. The Director has clearly seen some Creepshow in his time and knows that if you are going with a B grade concept for a modern audience, then don't dilly dally with the finer points. Either the Audience is going to rock on with you or they have already moved onto something else. Modern attention spans and all.
Interestingly Campion, in between going all Shaun of the Dead on us, constructs his short in time honoured horror fashion. Things follow a pre-determined pattern leading to the shock conclusion just when you think it's all over baby blue. While Julie is home alone waiting on Karl and some ouija board action we get plenty of shots of cute rodents doing their thing in their rodent homes in the lounge room, this is complete with the sort of score we would expect from one of those 1970s nature attacks films. With the arrival of Karl chaos enters domestic bliss via Julie's almost obsessive need to do the ouija board thing, well hello Captain Howdy, playing with the demonic board almost always leads to dire consequences in a horror movie. Following Karl's impromptu rendition of demon summoning all hell breaks loose. Just when Julie believes she has resolved the demonic vermin problem she get's a phone call and the Audience get the immortal line “Guinea pigs ate your mother?”. See that's a sixteen minute course in how to construct a horror movie if you are after following a tradition approach.
And I got to say Campion isn't afraid to bring the blood, in almost Monty Python abandon. Karl discovers that there's nothing demoniacally possessed hamsters like more than to scoot up trouser legs looking to collect nuts. The little buggers sure can do some damage to the meat and two veg as Julie discovers when she unbuttons Karl's pants in the one scene where the Director pays homage to T&A, of course Julie unleashes a torrent of blood rather than anything else. Campion is making a spoof here kids, and besides the Scary Movie franchise already did the Jonas Brothers thing, shame Disney shame! Though from memory the Wayans Bros didn't have the wedding tackle hitting the floor in a gory mess?
I also particular liked when Julie went Ellen Ripley on us, taping up her pants, tooling up, and facing up to the demonic threat. She certain enacts some possession rage on the local hamster population before rolling her sleeves up to take the battle to the streets. If the movie wasn't such an out there concept I could readily see a straight to DVD feature length sequel where Julie cuts a bloody swath through various household pets, before a further sequel hits the barnyard, then it's into space and beyond.
Good performance from the two shot cast, Stephanie Ratcliff (Julie) and Paul O'Neill (Karl), rounds out a solid production that certainly puts Directors Paul Campion and Barry Purves out there as names to watch. I had a lot of fun with the short and took it as a homage to The Evil Dead, with lots more references wrapped in for good measure. If you don't mind a side order of blood and gore, then this short is worth checking out in the horror/comedy frame of mind.
ScaryMinds Rates this short as ...br> br> Paul Campion warns us of the dangers of mixing ouija board summoning and hamsters.