First-time filmmaker McClain Lindquist takes a huge risk by adapting one of American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic Edgar Allan Poe‘s short story ‘The Tell Tale Heart‘ – and succeeds. For those who are not familiar with the story, the film follows the Narrator (played by Sonny Grimsley), who is haunted by the “evil eye” of the Old Man (James C Morris) whom he cares for. Accused of murdering the Old Man, the Narrator gets questioned by Detective Tucker (Teren Turner) and Officer Sharpe (Mikah Olsen). What follows is a journey into the manic mind of the Narrator.
Lindquist does a phenomenal job, and knocks it out of the park from the very first minute. He jumps right in, which is necessary when you want to tell a story in a short amount of time (22 minutes, in this case) and takes the viewer on a one-way trip to the depths of hell. Literally every single technical detail is tuned to perfection – from the thrilling sound design/editing, to the gruesome visual effects and bloody intense score. There’s this one extremely satisfying shot, after the Narrator drops a knife into the floorboard and a streak of red light reflects onto the ground and the weapon, as if it’s warning both its future victim and the viewer.
If you really want to nitpick, you could say the prosthetics to create the Old Man are a bit too gimmicky, but the small cast’s impressive acting and Lindquist’s attention for detail make up for that. Any film could seem worrisome when it seems you’re relying too much on a narrator, but not in this case. The Narrator tells the story, while in the meantime letting you focus on the short film’s fast editing and for the mood of the film to take its time to creep in. Beware, because ‘The Tell Tale Heart‘ isn’t for the faint of heart, combining visual and psychological thriller elements, also including a single unexpected jump scare that’ll make your ticker either go faster or end up flatlining.
Delivering a perfect short film, it is exciting to see what the cast and crew create next. Everyone who’s worked on this deserves a standing ovation. As an introduction to Edgar Allan Poe’s work, it would be interesting to see a full anthology series based on the man’s stories with the same talent attached in front and behind the camera.
Short Film Review – ‘The Tell Tale Heart’
Reviewed online, July 6, 2020. Running time: 22 min.
PRODUCTION: A BMP Productions production. Producer: McClain Lindquist. Executive producer: Herb Bangcock.
CREW: Director: McClain Lindquist. Screenplay: John Lindquist, McClain Lindquist (story by Edgar Allan Poe). Camera: Joseph Olivas. Editors: Joel Petrie, Raymund Delmar. Music: Joel Pack.
WITH: Sonny Grimsley, James C. Morris, Mikah Olsen, Teren Turner.