It’s always cool, I think, to watch a directorial debut. To see the burgeoning talents of those who may be, shall we say, cinematically inclined is always kind of exciting, because if it goes over well, it could lead to some really awesome projects down the road. Who knew that David Lynch would’ve gone on to make such classics as Eraserhead or Blue Velvet after making weird little shorts with his daughter and family friends? It can also be encouraging for those who maybe have yet to show their stuff or, more likely, are to afraid or anxious to show off their skills. Sometimes, permission is needed to put oneself out into the creative exosphere.
Directorial debuts can typically be messy affairs: first time directors still trying to get their shit together, maybe certain aspects don’t quite hit the mark like when they were initially thought up, or there’s a lack of professional talent behind and in front of the camera. Either way, debuts are always fascinating.
What we have here the directorial debut of Ven Scott, current vocalist of Runescarred, and formerly of Dead Earth Politics. Both of those bands are pretty solid individually, and Scott has plenty of musical chops. These are facts that cannot be denied, but will not effect this review. If you want to hear what Scott’s been up to lately, I implore you to check out Runescarred’s homepage.
So, ‘Date From Hell’ is a little horror short drenched in currently-trendy 80’s nostalgia. It’s plot is simple enough: two teens are on a date that’s going down the toilet pretty quickly. They then make up, then sneak into a medical building for some happy adult time, then our slasher antagonist comes in and does what they do so well. Of course, that’d be pretty boring on its own, so its fortunate to see that there is an actual twist here. While it’s nothing that changes what just transpired, the more ardent horror fan will definitely get a kick out of it. I sure did.
As for the actual production of the film, I’ll be honest, it’s pretty competent. Yes, this is a debut, and it is rough. Some of the acting is amateurish and unconvincing, the look of the film does have visual style but it doesn’t quite reach where it wants to go, and the paper-thin plot really doesn’t serve much unless you’ve watched a lot of horror films. It’s one of those by-fans-for-fans kind of films; the one that won’t get shown at something like Cannes or Sundance, but it’ll fit right at home at Fantasia Fest or Frightfest.
Something I did really like, fortunately, was the music: this thing really nails that kind of oppressive synth sound that harkens back to the 80s. And the short’s use of almost neon coloring compliments this musical direction real nicely. It’s clearly made with love, this film, and it makes it more forgivable and enjoyable in the end. That, and Runescarred appears during the credits with their song ‘This is Mine,’ and lemme tell you, it rips.
To Ven Scott, I say good job. ‘Date From Hell’ is far from perfect, but for the average horror fan, it’s a good time and I don’t see why one wouldn’t enjoy it. Silly, campy, but ultimately, pretty damn fun. It even has the cheesy tagline figured out: Terror Never Swipes Left.