Gruesome Reviews Super Scary Shorts Saturday

“Alfred J Hemlock” (2017): Diabolical Charmer Seeks to Lure in a Meek Victim in Exceptional Humorous Horror Short

Australian short chiller Alfred J Hemlock is a top-notch short film that balances eerie menace with whimsical charm and a dash of dark humor. The production values are marvelous and the acting is a delight in director Edward Lyons’ latest effort.

Emily (Renaye Loryman) is unceremoniously dumped – pretty much literally and figuratively – by her boyfriend Guy (Christian Charisiou) in a dark alley after an argument about how she behaved in front of his friends. The area is no place for a lady by herself to be, and she soon encounters the mysterious Alfred J Hemlock (Tristan McKinnon in a fantastic performance), who offers her rest from her world-weary existence. Giving any more of the story away would be just short of criminal.

Tristan McKinnon gives a masterful performance as the diabolical title character in director Edward Lyons’  Alfred J Hemlock.

Edward Lyons, who also cowrote the fine screenplay with Melissa Lyons and edited Alfred J Hemlock, directs with a confident hand and a solid eye for visuals. Although all of the action takes place in or next to an alley, Lyons and crew manage to build a dizzying atmosphere that makes everything feel larger and quite magical, including the enclosed space in which the story takes place. Simon Harding’s cinematography is a thing of beauty, as is the makeup work by Aidan Hirn (AKA Vianna Houghton). The visual effects by Ahmed Nashabe and crew are impressively rendered and a lot of fun to watch. Joff Bush’s score adds a great deal to the feel of the short, as well.

Renaye Loryman plays Emily, a woman at such a low point in her life that she feels like dying.

The performances by the three actors are all terrific. Renaye Loryman gives an appealing performance as the sad, desperate Emily, and she does definite justice to the character arc created by the Lyons. Christian Charisiou gives a believable performance as a hostile hothead. As good as these two performers are, though, Tristan McKinnon raises the bar with his energetic portrayal of the sinister, baleful Hemlock. This role calls for a big performance without quite going fully over the top, and McKinnon knows when to play things up and when to reel them in a bit. He has made the character all his own.

Christian Charisiou portrays Guy, Emily’s obnoxious boyfriend.

Alfred J Hemlock is on the early legs of its film festival run, and is most certainly a short film to seek out. Everyone involved should have huge things in store for their futures. For more information, visit the short’s official website at https://www.alfredjhemlock.com/, or at https://www.facebook.com/AlfredJHemlock/ or https://twitter.com/alfredjhemlock.

Alfred J Hemlock 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 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 "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" print magazine and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, Ghastly Grinning, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Decades of Horror: The Classic Era" and "Uphill Both Ways" podcasts. Joseph has also written for “Scream” magazine, "Filmfax" magazine, “SQ Horror” magazine, and the websites That's Not Current an HorrorNews.net. He 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.
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 "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" print magazine and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, Ghastly Grinning, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Decades of Horror: The Classic Era" and "Uphill Both Ways" podcasts. Joseph has also written for “Scream” magazine, "Filmfax" magazine, “SQ Horror” magazine, and the websites That's Not Current an HorrorNews.net. He 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.