[Review] The Loop (Buried Alive Film Festival 2019): Throwback is Done Right in Eighties-set Slasher Short

Horror shorts and feature films that hearken back to the 1980s heyday of theater releases and straight-to-video in the fright fare genre have been plentiful for the past few years, with the quality ranging from incredible to practically unwatchable, and the nods ranging from homage to pastiche to unoriginal aping. Writer/director Rich Ragsdale’s new short film The Loop finds a terrific middle ground where nostalgia and originality meet.

The Loop finds young Mikey (Shane Almagor) spending the evening on his family’s couch with older brother Tommy (Will Abbott) and Tommy’s girlfriend Cindi (Grace Westlin). Tommy has just brought home a VHS copy of “The Loop,” alleged to be “the scariest movie ever.” Mikey reluctantly but inquisitively watches the stalk-and-kill movie with the other two, seemingly repelled and fascinated by the titular villain (Rich’s brother Kevin Ragsdale). While the teens engage in a spirited bout of tonsil hockey, The Loop draws Mikey into his nightmarish, murderous world.

Rich Ragsdale has created an authentic atmosphere, from the short’s color palette to its score to a villain who gives off a bona fide slasher vibe without feeling forced, corny, or hack. The four actors do a fine job recreating 1980s horror tropes. Almagor plays the frightened, endangered preeten nicely while Kevin Ragsdale gives The Loop maniac a bit of a Freddy Kreuger feel while adding some fresh spins on the typical slasher villain. Abbott and Westlin are also solid as the stereotypical slasher flick horny teens.

Although The Loop works marvelously as a short film, it also has potential and promise as a possible future feature film. The creepy character and the eerie world that Rich and Kevin Ragsdale have created deserves more exploring.

The Loop screened at Buried Alive Film Festival, which ran at 7 Stages Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, from November 13–17.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 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.