“The Tell-Tale Heart: Sisters” (2016):  Updated Take on a Poe Classic Proves to Be an Eerie Affair



As potential viewers might guess from this short horror film’s title, The Tell-Tale Heart: Sisters is an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s famous short story “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Writer/director Christine Parker based her screenplay on that renowned tale, adding a dash of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” as well as her own twisted ideas.

Margaret (Cathy Mattson) has lived in the shadow of her older sister Caroline (Carrie Jones) ever since Margaret was adopted as a young girl. People virtually ignore her while Caroline grows up to become a celebrated singer and actress. Margaret eventually tires of playing second fiddle to her sister and plots revenge not once, but twice. Though the screenplay follows the basic beats of Poe’s story, the short film holds changes and surprises of its own.

Margaret (Cathy Mattson) plans to do her sister harm in writer/director Catherine Parker’s The Tell-Tale Heart: Sisters, an adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe short story.

Christine Parker’s black-and-white cinematography is rich and well executed, with a variety of interesting camera angles, dissolves, pans, and other techniques. The choice of black-and-white suits the short perfectly, giving it an air of old-fashioned gothic cinema flavor though it is set in the present day, with some scenes taking place in the 1960s and 1970s.  The song “Tell-Tale Heart” from Valentine Wolfe that is used for the beginning and ending credits music sets the initial tone of the film splendidly, and then sends the film out on a high note.

The acting in The Tell-Tale Heart: Sisters ranges from good to fair. There are a few moments where some performances border on being overly theatrical, but for the most part, the rather large cast for this short film acquits itself well. Cathy Mattson gives a menacing turn as the calculating Margaret – and does a top-notch job with her narration – while Carrie Jones is effective as her loving sister. One standout performance from the supporting cast is that of Shae Malham as teenage Margaret. Though Malham has only a short amount of screen time, she does the most with it, and gives a creepy turn.  

The Tell-Tale Heart: Sisters is part of Sick Chick Flicks, which you can learn more about at http://www.sickchickflicksfilmfest.com/. The short is currently making the film festival circuit rounds.

The Tell-Tale Heart: Sisters: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)


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.