Monday, August 10, 2015

Cameron McCasland's Tailypo

Cody checks out a short film from the director of The Lashman.

Last year, I was able to get a sneak peek at writer/director Cameron McCasland's The Lashman. Having enjoyed that slasher movie, I jumped at the chance to check out McCasland's new short film when he announced that it was available for review.

The short Tailypo is based on a bit of North American folklore that I had never heard of before this. Here McCasland tells his version of a story that has apparently been passed down from generation to generation, a story that's especially popular in Appalachia.

David Chattam stars as Levon, a hermit who lives in a shack in the middle of a woods, his only companion his dog Jasper (played by the adorable Ranger). Tired of living on beans, Levon heads out on a hunt one day, spots a creature of some sort, fires off a shot at it... and only manages to blow off its tail. A strange looking tail, one which doesn't appear to belong to any sort of animal you'd expect to see in these woods.

Whatever it belonged to, the tail has some meat on it, so Levon takes it home and cooks it for dinner.

Night falls, and at first Levon doesn't even notice the whispers of "Tailypo... gives me back my tailypo..." that come from the darkness. Eventually, however, the fact that the creature Levon wounded earlier wants to retrieve its tail becomes undeniable.

Wonderfully shot by Josh Ickes and edited by J. Kyle Kelly, Tailypo looks fantastic. One of the standout elements of The Lashman was the score by Thomas Berdinski, and Berdinski has again provided an awesome score here. I especially love the music he composed for the quieter, more calm moments.

The short is carried on the shoulders of Chattam, who does fine work making Levon a likeable guy to spend some time with. Being centered on a character who obviously can't see or hear very well, Tailypo takes an interesting approach to the building of tension. Horror movies will typically have their characters freaking out at every noise, but Levon hears a lot less from the creature than the audience does.

When the creature seeking its tail is revealed, it's in the form of a cool-looking monster created by an indie filmmaker whose work I've frequently written about, Dustin Wayde Mills. This nasty critter was brought to life by the combined efforts of performer Joseph Aguon Drake and a voice actor whose name I was pleasantly surprised to see in the end credits. Although I didn't recognize the voice speaking the "tailypo" lines, turns out it was Danielle Gelehrter, a.k.a. horror host Penny Dreadful from Penny Dreadful's Shilling Shockers.

A simple horror story that's all about atmosphere and the build-up of tension to a monstrous release, Tailypo is a fun way to spend 14 minutes.

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