“The Talisman” (2014): Well-Paid Delivery Errand Becomes a Hellish Journey


Secrets are not easy to hide in horror stories, and the main character in director Edwin Pagán’s short film The Talisman finds that he is no exception to this rule.

Ed (Ross Beshear) is settling down to a hamburger meal at a bar and grill when he starts receiving mysterious text messages from an unknown party. He is instructed to look under his table. Doing so, he finds an eyeglasses case containing a tube of glowing green liquid. The messages then instruct him to drop the liquid into his eyes.

The person behind the texts then calls Ed and tells him that he if he completes that task, he can keep the large sum of money that is under his chair, and he will also be able to see the caller.  It works, and Ed indeed sees some sort of humanoid-looking creature named Ciacco (Paul Bosche) across the table from him. Soon enough, Ciacco talks Ed into delivering a talisman to someone for a cool $10,000. Ciacco also reveals that Ed is harboring a terrible secret. The strangest occurrences are yet to come.

Talisman Ed
Ed (Ross Beshear) takes chances in the pursuit of money but his greed will take him down a dark path in The Talisman.

Edwin Pagán shows a notable directorial flair that is supported by good performances and solid visuals. Ross Beshear gives an accomplished leading turn as a man driven by greed and other demons, and Paul Bosche plays Ciacco with an engaging sense of menace. Adela Maria Bolet and Bárbara Jimenez also give solid performances in their roles, which I won’t discuss in detail here so as to avoid spoilers.

Edwin Pagán’s impressive cinematography features a striking color palette, including possibly the most vibrant, beautiful shots of rotting, worm-infested fruit that you’re likely to see in a film. Drew Daywalt’s screenplay keeps the action moving steadily, with tense dialogue throughout.

Talisman Ciacco
Paul Bosche plays Ciacco, a mysterious being who tempts Ed with a seemingly simple task offering a big reward.

Although Carlos Berrios’s sound mix was mostly very well done, I had difficulty understanding what Ciacco said over the phone, which is too bad, because I have the feeling that I missed some information that is important to the story. Also, the makeup effects for Ciacco and some practical effects work near the end of The Talisman show the limitations of the short’s budget.

The Talisman succeeds in creating an otherworld that seems to hold promise for a larger story. I was intrigued by these characters and would like to see what happens after the ending credits roll. You can watch The Talisman at director Edwin Pagán’s website: thepaganimage.com/film/thetalisman/.

The Talisman: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Talisman poster resized

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.