By Preston Corbell
The Oregonian 2011, Horror. Director: Calvin Reeder
The Oregonian offers something that a lot of independent horror films fall short of, that is, the unnerving involvement from an audience perspective which produces a “WTH” feeling throughout the film.
The phrase what the hell is not meant fully as a negative (or a complaint about the filmmaker) because this film will keep you on your toes, constantly thinking of what lies ahead.
So let’s start at the beginning of the storyline. A young woman, who appears to be alone, is involved in an accident. The beginning sequence is in the woods and at times the camera direction goes into “found footage” mode with shaky, disoriented, shots. There is carnage from the accident and shots of random people throughout the film.
As the film progresses, a theme develops: the use of little to no dialogue. Such a conceptis dangerous in filmmaking but a little easier to pull off in horror because there are so many things going on, allowing dialogue to become a footnote. I am also biased in the realm of minimal dialogue because I often use this technique in my own filmmaking. This is where the unnerving involvement of the audience comes in. Without dialogue, the audience is forced to help create momentum throughout the film. Little dialogue can often work as a tool to express creativity for both the filmmaker and audience, but at times it is very hard to pull off. The Oregonian has pulled this technique off very well, and you can’t help but become more involved as a viewer when watching this film, since much of the storyline of is left to the perception of the audience.
With crazy dream-like sequences, flash imagery, and strange people dressed in costumes, the filmmakers are not short on imagination. The thing that sets The Oregonian apart is mainly the editing, both good and bad, though mostly well executed. The only real negative in editing is the constant fade to black, which results a choppy flow for the film. There are multiple glimpses of fast cuts to trick the eye. The audio is scratchy at times, but the scoring provides a good pacing throughout the movie. The unique imagery, sharp cuts, and use of audience imagination propels this movie to the next level, and provides evidence someone spent some extra time in the editing room, which is, sadly, too often overlooked in Indie Horror. The lead character (played by Lindsay Pulsipher) is very well cast, but some of the other actors (in particular, the red stranger) seems awkwardly cast.
Overall, the film had little dialogue and strong visuals, which are a good combination, but it lacked a prominent storyline and general substance. From the moment it started in until the end I had a permanent look of horror and WTH, with that being said this film has some horrific charm to it and provides a good hour and a half of goretastic fun! Film rating: 2.5 out of 5
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Preston Corbell is an Austin, Texas based filmmaker/actor and clothing designer. Check out Preston’s latest film here.