Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Short film review: THE EL CHUPUGCABRA (2013) Directed by Aaron B. Koontz

This outlandish, bloody and outragious horror comedy short from writer/director Aaron B. Koontz is as ludicrous as its title is unpronounceable (at least to this Anglo tongue). 
A typical family have dropped into a dog rescue center to get a pup for the son (Dashiell Smith). They are warned by the attendant not to approach the cage - well, the actual warning is lifted word-for-word from The Silence of the Lambs, so it must be serious, right? The kid insists he wants this dog; a little pug whose cage is covered with caution signs and chains. Not even a strange Mexican woman, who appears out of nowhere, telling them that the dog is a devil-beast puts him off.
The father (Jeremy King) has to fill in the adoption forms and agree to a condition that they must NEVER feed the dog marshmallows. Bemused, they take the dog away, the boy naming him Chalupa. Before they have even left the car park, the crazy woman is back again, full of ominous warnings.
Things are fine, except the jerk father decides to do something to piss off the mother (Courtney Hans) at their barbeque get-together. Yep, he feeds little Chalupa a marshmallow. And like a little Gremlin, it has dire consequences. Instantly, the dog has turned into a monster and no-one is safe.
As you can imagine, this isn't made in earnest. The comic intent is displayed from the instant the Hannibal Lecter warning is heard. It's the father, however, who gets all the laughs, he's an obnoxious dick whose fast-talking and wise-cracking make you glad when the splatter starts. There are several minutes of outtakes after the credits which appear to show King's wise-ass comments were not all necessarily scripted. Most of them are biting snipes at his wife and son, and are very amusing.
But the comedy is propped up by some very good gore effects. Once the blood starts, it really flows. Or gushes, in buckets. It's a slaughter scene that's sure to please fans, it's gruesome yet still funny.
There's a strange inventiveness to the story, subverting the preconceptions and delivering a fun monster flick. The cinematography by Andrew Baird is great, particularly in the slaughter scene, which is set to the Spanish language version of Toni Basil's classic 'Mickey'. Bloodshed has never been so danceable.
Koontz has previously directed a couple of films via his Paper Street Pictures production company, a 40min film called Aperture (which I have yet to see) and the brilliantly bloody short ma·lev·o·lence, which you can see here. With other films in development, it's certain he's someone to keep an eye on in the future.
Behind the scenes shot provided by the director.

8 out of 10

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