The Collective Volume 1: The Meat Eater (2011) – By Emily Intravia

JABB Pictures presents The Collective, a compilation of horror shorts that share a common theme. Volume 1, "The Meat Eater," contains ten ten-minute films that use that title as a starting point for anything from sci-fi spoof to art-house experimentation. It’s a great premise for a project, giving low budget filmmakers a solid footing to explore in a limited but fertile running time. The results are varied, but each offers something unique.

In Thomas Berdinski’s “The Giant Rubber Movie: Sascratch vs. Afrodesious,” an alien boy teams up with a genial serial killer to battle a Godzilla-esque monster. Everything about the film is ridiculously over the top (and more often than not, quite annoyingly so), but if you can catch some of its goofiness, it’s an energizing way to start off things off. With its purposely (I hope) awful effects, it has the lightest mood of the series.

On the black and white ‘artistic’ front comes “Snow Angel” and “Graveyard Blues.” Shannon Feaster’s “Snow Angel” is an odd little experiment, as hauntingly effective music (composed by Kevin Macleod) tracks an empty winter road about to be occupied…but very, very slowly. It doesn’t quite pay off to justify the minutes of near nothingness, but it’s an interesting attempt at creating something new. Cameron J. Scott’s “Graveyard Blues” is more of a slog, with dull narration dragging us through a nose-ring wearing teenager’s saga with a monster and religion. There are some interesting visual touches and a well-done massacre, but the rough audio and slow pace ultimately drag it down too far.

Things lighten up with Liberty or Death Productions’ “Zrachne Vile,” a horror comedy told through the colorful ramblings of a seen-it-all barfly. Written and directed by James Mannan and Robbin Panet, “Zrachne Vile” has some fun with married life, fortune tellers, and most importantly, a very specifically carnivorous feline. The story keeps moving for its short running time and provides a light but rewarding payoff.

Jason Hoover provides two segments. The straightforward last-man-standing-against-the-zombies tale “The Meat Eater” is well-presented as a survivor story but ends on a disappointingly anticlimactic note. His other entry, “A Mark of Wholesome Meat,” is far more ambitious. Using a 1950s ‘educational’ video on the quality of the American meat industry, Hoover edits in real footage of modern factory farming. It’s easily the most terrifying part of The Collective, telling a heavy-handed message in a brutal, angry, and a tad over the top manner.

David Bonnell’s “Revenge Radio” follows the breakup (via text message, ouch) of two fairly obnoxious people and the fallout that comes with it. It’s not overly interesting, but the ending packs a great punch. Dakota Meyer’s “Corn-fed,” on the other hand, starts strong but tips its hand too early, telling us its twist without a strong enough tease. Since Meyer is billed as a “13-Year-Old-Filmmaker,” it’s a forgivable offense that will hopefully be considered in future projects. Another mixed offering is Eric Schneider’s Superstition, a dense little tale that juxtaposes two pals taking the death of their unlikable friend lightly with a serial killer slicing his way through town.

Considering we’re watching a horror film made in the 21st century, you can bet your smartphone that a found footage yarn finds its way in. Chris Jay’s “Dr Mea Tea” surprisingly enough comes off as one of the stronger shorts, complete with strong performances from the ensemble cast. A group of country hunters gather to hunt a local monster, but a jarring twist ending bends the question of who the real villains may be.

Fans of low budget horror shorts might enjoy The Collective’s first effort. Though none of the films are perfect (and a few are, at times, painful), each seems to be made by an enthusiastic group of filmmakers learning their craft. To learn more about the film, visit JABB Pictures website at http://www.jabbpictures.com