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[Review] The Springfield Three (Crimson Screen Horror Film Fest): All Roads Lead to Terror for Two High School Seniors and a Mother

Horror short The Springfield Three, prolific writer/director Samuel Gonzalez Jr.’s latest effort, is inspired by the true-life missing person case involving friends Suzanne Streeter and Stacy McCall, and Streeter’s mother, Sherrill Levitt, who went missing from Levitt’s Springfield, Missouri home on June 7, 1992. It should be noted that this is a fanciful narrative short and not a true-crime documentary. Gonzalez Jr. has crafted a chilling film with top-notch production values and winning performances from its three leads.

Ashlynn Yennie (The Human Centipede; Fear, Inc.) plays Suzanne, a high school senior whose mother Sherrill (Natalija Nogulich of Incarnate and The Guardian) wants to leave town on Ashlynn’s graduation day along with Suzanne’s friend Stacy (Gigi Gustin of Girls Just Wanna Have Blood and Fast and Fierce: Death Race) for safety’s sake because of Suzanne having to testify in court against her boyfriend. The trio’s car trip turns into a terrifying supernatural ordeal that is more than it initially seems.

Gonzalez Jr. concocts a nightmarish world that looks simultaneously slick and eerie. Symbolic deer and haunting roadside images share visual space with harsher, more realistic images of an intruder. Lucas Pitassi’s cinematography vividly captures the proceedings, with several shots inside the car that place viewers uncomfortably smack dab in the middle of the nail-biting action. 

Although Gonzalez Jr. aims for fantasy rather than fact with his The Springfield Three, he deftly humanizes the characters and gives viewers realistic dramatic interpretations of family and friends at odds with one another. Suzanne and Stacy have had a falling out, with Stacy trying to patch things up on their graduation day. Sherrill is doing what she feels is best and safest for the three of them, though a rebellious Suzanne feels otherwise. All three actresses give terrific performances, with Yennie having the widest chance to stretch among the three as her Suzanne is put through the wringer but also given some amusing and tender moments, as well. Gustin also shines as a friend who takes a light-hearted perspective about needing to leave town and who truly cares for her friend despite their differences.

Taking a fright-film approach to a case where loved ones still grieve and search for those who have gone missing is a bold risk, but the short could bring new awareness to the case. The Springfield Three is a strong slice of fear-fare cinema that takes a risk and delivers both disturbing and thought-provoking moments.

The Springfield Three was selected for the 2020 edition of Crimson Screen Horror Film Fest, which is based in North Charleston, South Carolina. It won the fest’s Crimmy Award for Best Short Film. For more information including upcoming screenings, visit https://www.facebook.com/TheSpringfieldThree/

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 "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.