Stella Ryan-Lozon stars as Sam, a seemingly ordinary woman who seems unusually unfettered by and infestation of eyeless ghosts. As Sam attempts to go through her daily routine, things become a touch more bizarre with each passing minute. What is really going on? Who is Sam and why is she haunted?…and more importantly, why is she indifferent to her haunting? These are definitely the most obvious questions as we begin DJ Remark’s fourth Short film: Good Works.
Directed by Daniel “D.J.” Remark and written by Jason Orr, Good Works is a clever short and something quite refreshing, although it does begin a little clichéd. The opening sequences start off akin to probably half of the student submissions to a horror festival. We have ghosts in closets, creepy spectres with latex eye-gouges and blood-soaked attire. The extras shamble around like, well, extras and our plot reveals itself bit by bit until, ultimately, some form of jump scare or fade-to-black kills off our lead…
Except, that’s not at all what happens. Instead of shrieking and fleeing or hiding in other rooms, Sam calmy shrugs as these supernatural entities boil her kettle. She then makes herself a pure plate of fried meat, pours herself a whiskey and lights a cigar. Replace the cigar with a 40 pack of Chesterfield Reds and this was my old man’s morning routine for decades. She pretty much blanks the ghosts and continues nonchalantly drinking and doing her thing for the remainder of her day, seemingly biding her time until something more pressing than a house full of eyeless apparitions comes to pass. What exactly is that event? I’m sure you’re dying to know.
While Good Works is definitely not a technical masterpiece, there was a lot of good filmmaking and a pretty clear direction. The score was a good choice, which played along nicely with a variety of shots and camera angles. The editing was solid and the film didn’t drag on but was very to the point, which I most definitely appreciated. The practical effects and makeup were acceptable but not outstanding. The eye in the tea looked a little too glassy but the makeup—overall—was a lot better than many shorts of a similar budget.
*Minor spoilers ahead*
My biggest criticism would probably be Sam’s character. I’m not sure of the fault lies with Ryan-Lozon’s acting or Remark’s direction…or whether she (Sam) was exactly as intended, i.e. her character is always meant to be deathly calm no matter the situation. While she might be evil herself, the final scene should have had almost anyone—good or evil—at least somewhat impassioned. Sam’s calm, monotonous soliloquies just felt too deadpan for the nature of what was taking place.
That issue aside, the rest was thoroughly enjoyable, specifically the final scene. Angelia Green (Angelia DeLuca?) was fantastic in her satanic role, with that whole scene brilliantly shot; the doorway framing the entity, the blur cleverly silhouetting the creature without having to worry about a closeup. It was all rather prodigious. The reveal, the twist, the deal, the appeal; fantastic writing and a very carefully crafted story. It had a little bit of that old-school Hellraiser feel to it which I miss so dearly.
Ultimately, a very satisfying short. Intriguing at the start, clever through the centre, and an infernally intelligent ending. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Poster below.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.