Golden Age (2007) – By Joshua Samford

 In the past decade or so, since the release of Scream – the horror scene has been livelier than ever. For a while during the mid nineties, it was almost shameful to be a horror film fan; at least that’s what was pushed down our throats for those of us who were still in love with those 80’s slashers of old. However, in the past few years, with horror moving slightly away from the psychological horrors of Scream and more "exploitive" stylings in the horror movement taking center focus – those responsible tend to be those same horror geeks who were at one time shamed for their love of films of the past. These filmmakers can be a good thing and some times they can be a bad thing for the genre. Some times, filmmakers like Eli Roth and Rob Zombie come along and show true promise while also referencing classic exploitation films of the past (don’t get me wrong though, both filmmakers in my opinion started off slow and are now in their proving ground) but more often than the few; young filmmakers tend to go out and basically duplicate everything they thought to be "cool" and throw out a simplistic plot line to connect the random series of murders together. You can look at the films of Andreas Schnaas and a massive number of independent filmmakers for a good display of this route of horror movie making. I’m here to say that Cullen Carr, writer, director and leading man in his film Golden Age is NOT one of bad ones. His film is a detailed account of everything that was so right about horror in the eighties, and not just a random series of references to make up for bland filmmaking. Golden Age isn’t a perfect film, there are few that even come close but for the mood that it sought to inspire and the originality still felt throughout the course of events within the movie; it is certainly one of the most impressive short films I have seen in a very long time.

So if you’re wondering what exactly Golden Age is all about – it’s the stuff classics are made of. Man works hard to support the woman he loves, man comes home to find woman he loves in bed with his best friend. Man gets mad, burns trailer down and starts a drinking binge that lasts months. Meanwhile, as he drinks away his worries, something odd is going on in the woods in his hometown and the local video store (where our leading man’s new goth-ish leading lady is working) is tied into it all. That’s the basic plot summary, to give away too much might ruin it, but in a nutshell Golden Age comes off as a professionally thought out and well shot independent horror film that was inspired by, and not just ripping off, classic exploitation horror films from the 70’s and 80’s. This sort of thing is being done a lot here lately as more violent horror films become more mainstream – and Carr strikes me as the type of filmmaker who very well go on to big things if this new wave of violent horror sticks around for a while. He seems to "get" the genre more than even Roth or Zombie seemed to get it on both of their first outings. Carr of course has the benefit of seeing the end results of House of a 1000 Corpses and Cabin Fever, seeing what worked and where to draw proper inspiration – but regardless; I’d personally rather watch this thirty minute short over those two films any day of the week. Golden Age isn’t a perfect work of art, but one can’t help but sit back and be impressed with how accomplished it is. Golden Age takes the inspiration I’ve talked about, and focuses it on all the right areas. You go back to the "golden age" of classic horror, and filmmakers who sought to really traumatize their audiences – they all didn’t have immense budgets to fill their films full of blood and gore effects that would simply eat away at the budget and would most likely be hokey anyway. So they made due with what they had and tried their best to strengthen their characters, make them as interesting and as strong as possible – then allow the horrors to unfold. If you care enough about the leads in any film, you’re going to feel for any horrors that befall them. Carr, in my opinion, showed this tremendously. Even with such a short time, he takes the proper time to truly flush these characters out and give them their own individual voices and make them all stand out. Carr in the lead role is just phenomenal, usually casting yourself on a low budget film would be a big "no-no", but I can only imagine Carr had a good enough team around him to help view his performance as a third person because his character is perfect for the film. A man done wrong, but ALWAYS likable and fun for the audience to watch. He is funny, witty, clever and quaint and the horrors he has to later endure make those of us in the audience that much more involved in his tragedy.

Since watching it, I have been nothing but impressed with Golden Age and have high hopes for Carr as a director. He seems talented enough to branch out into any genre he feels like, but I personally hope he delivers at least one feature length horror film. Quite frankly, and I know I’m not alone on this one, I would love to see a full length feature film version of Golden Age. If there is one thing I could think to complain about with Golden Age would be the length; and I think with over an hour of running time Carr could really produce an intriguing and engaging little wonder. Here’s hoping at least. I encourage you all to go out and pick it up, it’s one of the best indie shorts you will probably ever snatch up. Kudos and congratulations to these guys, you can find a copy for yourself on their myspace page. Check it out now!