November 22, 2020

The Tell-Tale Heart (2020)

(Written by Jason Manriquez, Assistant Editor/Paddy Jack Press)

McClain Lindquist's short-film adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's classic, The Tell-Tale Heart, is a moody, well-photographed ode to that particular strain of gothic theatricality that marries old-world airs to a distinctively American strain of macabre depravity and violence. There is no skimping of blood in any ill-conceived attempt to make this more acceptable to the tea and crumpet circles. Nope. This is a horror short with a vision, and it stays true to that vision throughout its modest 22-minute runtime. The Narrator, played by Sonny Grimsley, remains the one fixed constant throughout a series of vignettes meant to tease and discombobulate the audience. Time and space itself are continually made questionable, with clocks running backward, and the various scenes shifting locales, never quite sure if what’s happening is taking place at the home of the Old Man (James C Morris), or at some police station, or who-knows-where. Officer Sharpe, played by the wonderfully assertive Mikah Olsen, and Detective Tucker, portrayed by Teren Turner, appear as archetypal law enforcement from divergent eras, further heightening the spatio-temporal confusion. Officer Sharpe looks as though she was culled from an 80’s police drama, while the Detective looks like someone pulled from a pulpy Mickey Spillane novel. The auteur's commitment to Poe’s literary vernacular is clearly meant to create tension within the viewer habituated to a uniform vernacular. All the characters speak from a distinct place, almost as if they all existed in separate worlds. Regardless, the film does a great job drawing the viewer in for a closer look at the simmering surface of an unhinged mind.

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