Balls Out (2009) – By Josh Samford

From the title alone, you would more than likely expect Balls Out (Directed by Mikiech Nichols) to be some kind of raunchy youth oriented comedy. That’s the vision I had in my mind before sitting down to watch the short film in question and as you may have figured, I was assaulted with my own expectations being blown out of the water. Balls Out isn’t a gross-out comedy, but rather it’s an aptly titled balls-out action film that slam dunks you over the head with an insane amount of gratuitous violence and looks to rack up on as many "cool points" as it can possibly score within its short twenty seven minutes. It does just that with gusto and although it isn’t perfect in any way, it does show some heart and a true love for genre cinema.

Frank Ball is a professional killer who is looking to exit the ‘life’, but his former employers aren’t willing to allow him to bow out gracefully. His best friend is kidnapped and tortured in an attempt to lure Ball into a hornet’s nest, but Ball is a more powerful adversary than even they could have imagined. After killing off these enemies, he takes his friend and the two make a run for it. Along the way they run into a young southern belle who refuses to help Ball and his injured friend, but after spending some time with Frank and his partner (some time that includes her brothers being beat down and her being kidnapped) she finds that these guys really aren’t so bad. However, she has walked into a dangerous situation as Frank’s former employers are still on the hunt for him. Will they make it out of this sticky situation all in one piece?

Balls Out seems to wear its inspirations on its sleeve, but it at least does so in a way that isn’t as convoluted as you might expect. Although the score for the film does evoke Blaxploitation cinema of the past, or seventies filmmaking in general, it appears to be equally inspired by the Nintendo generation and 8-bit midi tracks. It’s a movie that isn’t so easy to pin down as simply being another love letter to genre cinema made in the wake of Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse. The references are generally very sly (aside from a shot at Burt Reynolds, which was obvious) and steers clear of rubbing your face in the fact that it is a movie made by film geeks.

The violence in Balls Out is ridiculously over the top and that actually helps keep the film afloat in its rather silly attitude. The dialogue also perpetuates this attitude, by having our leading man give all of his dialogue through gritted teeth in a Noir fashion, but unfortunately it just proved to be too far over the top for my liking but it certainly helps keep your mind in context of just what you are watching. This is a no budget attempt at creating a brutal and fun crime film, that looks to find an audience of like-minded film fans. Although it certainly has its own fair share of negatives, such as the rather cheap looking CG and the previously mentioned ‘gritty’ voicework of our leading man, but there is heart here and makes for a fun watch. Definitely give this short a chance if the opportunity presents itself.