Review: ‘Puppet’ Short Is Ambitious and Compelling
By: J. Carlos Menjivar
From PROco PROduction coMPANY, Puppet is the third short film from directing duo DaG (Joseph R. Davis & Brian Gerson). In their latest exploration of the horror genre, with a script by Jeffery Potts, they tackle the ever popular zombie sub-genre. It goes without saying that the genre suffers from over-saturation and seems to be the go-to fixation of indie filmmakers. However, as tenacious filmmakers have shown, there is an untapped potential for these type of films to go above and beyond the gore and blood. The best zombie films are usually compelling explorations of the dynamic between our fellow human beings with blood and gore as the proverbial cherry on top.
Puppet might change your mind about what the zombie genre has to offer. The film’s tagline proclaims: “zombies and zealots” and in a nutshell, that there is the film. Puppet, instead of focusing on merely the zombie aspect of the film, takes its time in setting up strife among characters while making a precise commentary on institutionalized religion connecting the mindless undead with the obfuscation that clouds thought and rationality for some religious zealots.
The film pits a group of friends as they gather for a bible study session. The true purpose of the meeting is unclear to Emery (Tara Cardinal) as she’s forced to come to the meeting under false pretense. The first half of the film focuses on establishing its cast of characters and setting up a casual mood. It also reveals the film’s conflict among the characters, specifically the strife between Emery and some of the more religious individuals. Puppet‘s exposition is less horror and more drama as it explores human relations as they concern and meld with religion, and the film does so in a very paced manner.
So, when the zombie outbreak occurs it happens in a nonchalant manner shrouding the film in a cloud of realism that carries over from the film’s exposition. In fact, the film begins with cinema verite shots of Los Angeles and the surrounding area. The group of friends in the film feel like real people anyway and when the shock of the outbreak happens nothing is overtly dramatic or bombastic, things just happen. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t offer any effects or blood– it does– but instead of making it just about zombies, Puppet infuses its narrative with human drama.
Puppet is an ambitious 20-minute short film that dares to explore ideology and how it pertains to our relations with other people. The film, perhaps, uses its low budget to its advantage allowing for the film to exude a rough cinema verite feel that aims for a palpable verisimilitude, expertly navigating through a murky and divisive topic in religion.
Find out more about PRoco PROduction coMPANY at their official website. Check out the trailer for Puppet below. The film stars Tara Cardinal, Leah Ann Cevoli, Ryan Demarest, Matt Jayson, Jeffery Potts, and Berna Roberts.
Keep the Fear Alive!