Welcome to Dreadville – Part VII: Love, Death and Blueberry Pancakes (2009) – By Cary Conley

Last month I reviewed the previous installment of “Dreadville” entitled “The Lottery”.  I liked “The Lottery” and I really liked the idea of a new filmmaker learning his craft by doing a series of film shorts that don’t cost a lot of money but gives him or her about the same amount of exposure as a tiny indie film would.  I also like the idea of a film series loosely tied together by the same location—in this case, the fictional town of Dreadville.  And while I haven’t seen the entire series as of yet (it’s on my “to-do” list but I’ve been really busy this month), it seems that both “The Lottery” and the latest installment, “Love, Death, and Blueberry Pancakes” take their cue from television series such as “The Twilight Zone” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” in that they each include a nifty twist at the end.

“LD&BP” introduces us to Anne (played by Carla Westlund), an upper middle-class teen and wannabe gangster girl who is drawn to the wrong side of the tracks by a bad-boy gangster she has fallen for.  While she has convinced herself that she’s in love with Chino (Jason Patfield), at the same time she knows deep in her heart that what she is doing is wrong.   After an ugly confrontation with her father, she cuts school to see her new beau in hopes of losing her virginity, but at the last minute she chickens out and leaves.

Meanwhile, someone dressed all in black is on a vigilante spree and is killing all the major gang leaders in town.

Making her way through the Dreadville ghetto, Anne is kidnapped by two greasy-looking dudes.  Cut to Anne waking up tied to a chair, her mouth duct-taped, and wearing a hood.  The same shadowy man in black takes off the hood and forces her to watch a snuff video of all her gangster friends being killed.  And now it seems that it’s Anne’s turn to die next…or is it?  To say more would give away the twist, so I don’t want to do that; but I will say that I liked the twist ending.  Not only was the ending fun, but it tied in with the title of the film, “Love, Death, and Blueberry Pancakes”.

Again, I haven’t had the chance to see the entire series yet, but I think the last two installments of this series are both decent little thrillers and both have nice twist endings.  Jason Patfield, the creator of the series, has done an admirable job of finding filmmakers who may be relatively new to filmmaking but work hard at realizing their project.  In this latest installment of “Dreadville,” writer and director Jose Carlos Gomez does a nice job of helming the project.  I particularly enjoyed the way he moved the viewer from the well-to-do area of town into the ghetto.  The change in musical style and images really gives the viewer a feeling that Amy has crossed over to the wrong side of the tracks.

There is a decent amount of gore here, with bloody gunshot wounds and even a disemboweling.  While the effects were done on the cheap, I felt they were well-done and quite bloody.  The original musical score and theme songs, while also done by local/regional talent, were nevertheless high quality and enjoyable as well.

In my opinion, the last two episodes of the “Dreadville” series are quite successful and fun little short films to watch.  Kudos to these filmmakers for taking on this project.  I look forward to seeing more from Patfield and crew (possibly a feature film in the near future?).