Leaving the studio environs behind, a rock band gets more than they bargained for when they set up shop in a seemingly abandoned military academy to record a new album in this indie chiller helmed by Jeff Thomas. The group realizes something’s amiss when they find sketches picturing decomposing corpses and a sinister art gallery with paintings that morph into depictions of the rockers dying in barbaric fashion. Kevin Kuras and Daniel Rain star.
I rented 13 Seconds way back when it first became available for rental. My first thought was….pretty interesting cover – worth a look. In fact, I swear at one point the cover demon had horns, that were removed later by the DVD designers. oh wait, here it is……
Anyways, 13 Seconds is the directorial debut by new comer Jeff Thomas. After researching, I further discovered that it was a labor of passion that involved the charging up of multiple credit cards to get it completed. Sometimes this is what it takes to make a point and to deliver a film.
I was instantly surprised on many levels. For one, the fact that it was an independent low budget film was not a concern. You have to overlook those facts sometimes as many filmmakers don’t have Sony’s budget comfort padding to fall back on and get Hollywoods finest to “glitz” it up. So with that out of the way “13 Seconds” was a delightful surprise. At its core it had a solid good script and a good idea. My first impression was that this is a film made “for” horror fans. Yes, the audio was ADR’ed at times, and yes all the faces were unfamiliar. But it had a certain class to it that sung with – “lets see what he does with some capital behind him” in the future. Jeff Thomas, not only wrote, directed, and produced this little gem, but acted in it as well.
This kind of thing is not uncommon for film-makers fresh out of the park.
13 Seconds the film follows the undoing of a group of kids as they meet at a local college to record an album. Davis and the group set up shop which is when the undoing starts to unfold. Haunted by a gallery that depicts there deaths is only the beginning in this harrowing mind-play of terror. We witness as they drop like flies and the evil grows in frequency with more visceral violence.
High points for me, was the distinct use of lighting and FX work that played nicely on screen. In fact, the FX wizard Robert Miller also played the role of “sidetrack ” in the movie, which signifies a resourcefulness of talent available. So I’m pretty sure it was a soda and pizza budget on set. There was a nice mix of creatures thrown-in to add creepiness and a few surprises as well. My only dislike really was the overly filtered photo-shopped looking art that they used for the gallery scenes. I got over it………though. The actors are like-able at times and other times feel a little “green” in there presentations.
You also get the sense that this film wasn’t rushed with editing choices that were more carefully chosen, than standard horror fanfare. Which of course is a nice bonus. The film really picks up as it escalates. Complete with saran-wrap straitjacket man wielding a chainsaw and some nice strangling by one’s own intestines. The feet flop scene was a nice touch that also that shows the ingenuity of the filmmakers to work with limited supplies. I wont spoil the ending but one gets the sense of a Matrix-like reality (and before Matrix was created).
The script was not your usual …let’s get em Chuck … style of writing. It had a sense of deep philosophical brainstorming that is also evident in Thomas’s later works.
I’ve since read reviews on 13 seconds and have found that many let the initial low budget look influence posted comments , which is unfortunate. Sure if all you are looking for is Spiderman budgets then 13 Seconds won’t fill your plate, However if you want to sit thru a fun viewing of chaos and and bloodletting on screen then 13 seconds is a recommended viewing that might inspire like filmmakers with some ideas on how to make it all work on screen.
Most of all, a product like this is a welcome sign to independents who have to make due to deliver, but still can deliver a watchable quality product.
Good times that last more than 13 seconds on this one! – Check it out.
13 Seconds (2003)