6 STORIES, 1 MOVIE, GOOD STUFF
Main Cast: Jessi Gotta
Directors: Jane Rose, Matt Gray, Shannon K. Hall, Jessi Gotta, Rebecca Comtois, Bryan Enk
Sometimes I gotta really love my job. I mean the writing part, not that thing I go to every night. That’s more minor inconvenience than anything else. But I digress. Back to writing. Since part of that includes writing reviews for awesome horror movies, sometimes I get to see awesome flicks before anyone else. Last week I got an email out of the blue from Bryan Enk, whose previous movies The Big Bad and They Will Outlive Us All I’d already reviewed. He wanted to know if I would be interested in taking a look at he and Jessi Gotta’s latest project, The Moose Head Over the Mantel.
Um … YEAH.
Like I even had to think about it.
Having seen their other projects, and knowing they weren’t that long ago (Bad was 2011, Outlive was 2013), it’s amazing what a leap these guys have made in their quality of storytelling and filmmaking. Written by Gotta, The Moose Head Over the Mantel is 6 short stories told in non-linear fashion about the occupants–all from the same bloodline, I believe–of one house over the course of 100 years. Specifically the part of their lives that take place in one particular room of their house. And almost all of the action is seen from the perspective of a giant moose head hanging over the mantle. No, no, I know what you’re thinking, that the moose head comes to life and becomes part of the story. Don’t worry, the movie doesn’t get stupid or silly, these are dead serious stories. We just happen to see them through the eyes of stuffed moose head hanging over the mantle in this room. To break up the shots, though, we also see parts of it through a stuffed deer’s head, and a stuffed wolf’s head. But once you get used to the style, you don’t even notice it.
The real focus here is the stories, the characters, and the hell their lives become. One family is torn apart by an angry alcoholic father. One by devil worship. One by a single mother’s inability to say no to an abusive beau. And one story, 1983, directed by Enk himself and starring Gotta in the lead role, is about a family who moves into the house–a huge house in the country–from the city after their son almost burns down the apartment building they were living in. The mother, Gotta as Lillian, is terrified of her son, Nicholas, who can go weeks without speaking and wears a Halloween mask almost constantly. Not to mention the dead animals that pop up here and there throughout the house.
Jessi Gotta is such a strong writer, and getting stronger with everything I see of hers–not to mention a stronger actress. As for direction, the film’s 6 segments were directed by 6 different directors:
1881 by Jane Rose
1904 by Matt Gray
1922 by Shannon K. Hall
1945 by Jessi Gotta
1966 by Rebecca Comtois
1983 by Bryan Enk
It’s fun to see how each director handles the visual style of the three points of view, not to mention the music, the cinematography, the production design and the art design. This is truly a beautiful sight to behold throughout, even in the ugliest of segments.
I’ve been impressed with everything I’ve seen from these two so far, and this latest project just proves their commitment to constant improvement of their craft. This one is highly recommended and I hope to see it with a wide release soon so I can direct more people to it.
C. Dennis Moore is the author of over 60 published short stories and novellas in the speculative fiction genre. Most recent appearances were in the Dark Highlands 2, What Fears Become, Dead Bait 3 and Dark Highways anthologies. His novels are Revelations, and the Angel Hill stories, The Man in the Window, The Third Floor, The Ghosts of Mertland and The Flip. He is writing another Angel Hill novel called Return to Angel Hill with co-author David Bain.