In today’s trends of independent filmmaking, all signs are pointing towards the rise of the web series. Although not the most profitable, the free and unlimited source of content makes it a playground for viewers and an opportunity for little-known filmmakers to showcase their talents. Although the chances of gaining any profit are pretty low, the web medium does offer the opportunity to present viewers with a professional package that can develop into bigger and better projects.
Right of the bat, The Dead Hour shows it’s film chops. The very professional look of even the first shot of the first episode presents an independent film quality that may not meet major motion picture requirements but definitely fits right in with the quality of an film festival piece. This sets the stage for a surprisingly well shot series, some shots even being blatantly beautiful. The technical skill or the shots and movements begs the question of ‘what was their budget?’ Considering the extremely low profit margin, the look and feel of the film definitely surpasses expectations. Even the sound and score are professional and round out the fantastic flowing series that could work as an enjoyable feature film, although each individual short would have no problem standing on it’s own in the festival circuit. Above average filmmaking and fun factor put the series head and shoulders above the overwhelmingly mediocre web-content market.
The Dead Hour is based around a Gothic radio DJ who seems to be pulling the strings to this puppet show, and before each journey she tells us of what lies ahead. It is pretty obvious from the start that the first short, Fright Fest, is focused on a girl on a first date with her less-than-perfect guy, who drags her to an all night horror film festival. As the first films begin, she realizes that the horrors on screen become the horrors in the theater. The scary characters from the films soon invade the theater and become more than the cute couple can handle. Episode 2, Fame, tells of a Hollywood hopeful looking for her 15 minutes of fame, but soon finds herself in over her head when her big break does not come. After seeing a newspaper ad boasting a once-in-a-lifetime role, poor Cara goes to an intense audition that will change her life (in many ways) forever. Episode 3 shows a pair of horny teenagers getting close in the back seat of the car, but it seems like they are not alone. As things really start to heat up the young and eager girl comes to a horrible realization that there is something in the trunk of this young man’s car that she definitely was not prepared for. Episode 4 follows an agoraphobic man named Tony forced to move to a new house, scared and alone he tries to cope with his new surroundings but it is more than he can handle. Although he is trying to gain his independence and break free from his fears, but a mysterious visitor in his home has pushed him beyond his limits. The fifth episode slides off a bit. It follows a young woman in a very low budget seeming med school who is in for a surprise when a cadaver rises from the table. The cinematography is on par but the dialog is cheesy and the suspense is lacking. Although I would say Episode 5 is a bit of a miss, the series as a whole is definitely a must watch. Episodes six through eight have descriptions on their site but their launch dates are listed as TBD, hopefully we will be seeing those soon.
Although it satisfies the need for horror, there is plenty comedy and intensity with a healthy dose of satire and a tip of the hat to the filmmaker’s obvious influences. There’s nothing here that will float too far over your head, but it also has an intelligence and mystery that keeps you wondering what is coming around the next corner. It’s a fun ride with something in it for everyone. Check out The Dead Hour Season 2, as well as season one at www.thedeadhour.com, like them on Facebook, and learn how to get involved and support these talented filmmakers and keep this unique series rolling.