Independent filmmaking is something that pretty much anyone can get into these days. With easy to access technology, affordable cameras, and proven success with prior filmmakers at national film festivals, indie horror seems like the best way to get one’s foot in Hollywood’s extremely selective door.
Metroplague recently got our claws on a preview screening of Catch Me Kill Me Production’s latest found footage horror film, The Monkey Farm. Although readers won’t be able to see this film anytime soon, we, at Metroplague thought this would be a great opportunity to not only “review” the film, but examine independent filmmakers, and the horror genre so many of them dwell in.
Indie Horror Needs Originality
With a title like The Monkey Farm the mind automatically shoots to thoughts of King Kong or Planet of the Apes, both of which have had screen time this summer. While TMF does feature a primate as its main antagonist, it keeps its story grounded in original ideas.
TMF’s story centers on a documentary film crew uncovering the evils of animal testing. Their trail leads them to the said location where the team quickly discovers that they are in way over their heads.
Independent filmmakers tend to get in over their heads when they strive for originality in a script. Yes, the concept of animal testing is new, but the idea of chasing a local boogeyman fable, while interesting, is not new, and could easily stumble into familiar territory.
TMF had a lot of original plot going for it and would get itself going on a nice slow burn, only to have one too many Rob Zombie references thrown in, taking the viewer out of the experience and leaving them wondering, “Now where have I heard that line before?”
With indie horror, homages are always welcome and can be a great way to draw in fans, but keeping your story away from the tropes of recent horror is the best way to keep the fans that you draw in.
Tip: For a great example of homage mixed with originality, check out CMKM Production’s 2016 film Fireside Tales
Indie Acting can be a Problem
One of the biggest issues with independent film, in general, is that indie filmmakers often run their ships on a tight budget and get their aspiring pals to star in their movies. This often results in shoddy acting and having the believability of the moment sucked out as if by a vacuum.
TMF, however, does not suffer this fate. Where the story is shaky, or when one line seems a little too familiar to the ears, a regular viewer will skim over it because the delivery was that spot-on. We have been following TMF Director, Ian Messenger for years and he has seemed to have learned a lesson that many indie horror filmmakers do not.
Is Less More?
Finally, we come to the idea that less is more, and everybody today wants to see a ‘slow burn.’ These types of horror films are good but can be difficult to pull off. It can be disheartening to sit through a two-hour feature, only to see the antagonist in the last 15 minutes of the runtime. Even big budget pictures like It Comes at Night and Digging Up the Marrow suffer from these issues.
TMF was entertaining and had some great lore behind it, but personally, the viewers who watched our private screening were hoping for more of the creature than what was presented. The effects on this creature were extremely cool, so it left us questioning if less was really worth it in this instance.
Support Indie Horror
No movie is perfect, and how good it really lies in the eye of the viewer. If you have not yet done so, subscribe to CMKM Production’s YouTube channel and enjoy their behind-the-scenes antics, teasers, and more. When TMF is available for rent, you bet we will push it out. This is a film, that should be seen for the craftsmanship alone. The dedication of Messenger and his crew show throughout, we just wish we had seen more of the terror that was promised.