The Studio on Mars is no stranger to Day of the Woman, but the small independent film company out of Cleveland, Ohio has officially earned the rights to wear their big boy pants with their short film, THRILL KILL. The directorial debut of Zach Shildwachter, THRILL KILL is a seven minute short that feels like a cross between the opening sequence of Resevoir Dogs sprinkled with some of the perverted villains from episodes of Criminal Minds. Vulgar, sexy, loud, bloody, and creepy, THRILL KILL is one of the most fun I've had watching a short film in a very long time. Shot in four hours on a budget of only $130 dollars, THRILL KILL's cinematography rivals anything a big budget can crank out. This. Film. Is. Pretty. This film cost less than a PS3 to make, but it doesn't show. I seriously cannot wrap my head around how it is humanly possible to make something that beautiful for that cheap.
J Buckner stars as the masked man driving away from what appears to be a heist gone wrong with a dying, beautiful woman riding passenger of a gorgeous '77 Mustang. Buckner (the director and star of Studio on Mars' freshman piece, I AM ALIVE) does most of the talking and may have a future in playing men that give me the grade-A creeps. However, it's the sharp left turn delivered by actress Agata Stasiak that kept me drawn in. How someone manages to be furiously sexy and muster some funny one-liners at the same time is really impressive. The two have very awkward chemistry, but it works exactly the way Shildwachter wants it to. Watching them is uncomfortable, and for one particular moment, sort of unsettling to watch, but I couldn't imagine it being any other way. THRILL KILL pays homage to a multitude of film genres, and Shildwachter respectfully showcases his inspirations through his camera work and visual design.
The only major complaint I have is an overabundance of the f-bomb. In Buckner's minute and a half long opening monologue, there's 31 uses of the word "fuck," "fucking" or "motherfucker." It feels a bit trying, and pulls away some of the intensity of the opening sequence. How much of that came from writing v. how much came from the actor is something I do not know, but it is luckily only 1:30minutes of the film. Once the monologue ends and the real story picks up, THRILL KILL quickly becomes one hell of a ride.
Shildwachter's piece may not be picture perfect, but it's incredibly strong directorial debut. Beautiful camera work, a keen eye for detail, and an attention-span friendly style all combine to showcase his potential to do something much bigger and better. Fortunately for us, the folks at The Studio on Mars released THRILL KILL today, for free, online. Check it out below!
THRILL KILL from The Studio on Mars on Vimeo.