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Home | Film Review: The Machine (short film) (2014)

Film Review: The Machine (short film) (2014)



The Machine, is a gothic ghost story that follows two hard-pressed vagrants who break into an old farmhouse one night. The film will be directed by Zack Gross (The Blame Game, Bagmen, Harborview), Produced by Zach Griffin (Macabre, The Zach and Zack Podcast) and written by Henry Leeker (Macabre).


Ever got a yearning to see a gothic ghost tale with time travel? Well, now’s your chance! The Machine manages to have a creepy film noir-like style, with moody, stylish cinematography. There’s a good use of shadows, effective, lingering music and an extensive, gloomy voiceover narration. Perhaps I’d argue that there is actually too much reliance on the voiceover for this piece, as it doesn’t give the visuals and action an opportunity to stand on its own merit.

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I’d recommend this if you’re into an Edgar Allen Poe sort of thriller, that plods along in an oppressive manner as opposed to hugely adrenalin-fuelled gore fests. A lot of older classic horror films possess this quality too, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing (just think of how slow the pace of The Shining or Rosemary’s Baby is!). Anyway, to quote the Facebook page regarding the actual storyline of the film – ‘strange things happen when drifters Gordon and Murphy break into the house of an Inventor with an interesting creation’. And strange things certainly do happen, but that’s time travel for you!

A criticism that I think of here is that the story is nowhere near clear and punchy enough to really have a long-lasting impact. The general tone and atmosphere of the piece is worked on so much that the message gets kind of lost. The film is advertised as one which ‘blends science with the supernatural’, but I didn’t feel either of these elements were explored well enough. There were just too many questions left dangling for my liking. The story starts to drag and doesn’t move forward with any real speed or purpose. But I do think it’s a good idea as it’s quite an unusual one – you don’t see too many horrors set in the 1930s for some reason, not too many which don’t have Nazi’s in at least.

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The Machine was yet another independent horror who has its beginnings as a Kickstarter campaign in order to scrape enough cash together to start. They even posted an ad on their Facebook page asking it anybody was interested in playing one of the lead roles, no payment for it though, just food and hotel. Clearly, Zack Gross (director) and Zach Griffin (producer)’s persistence paid off because they have created a short which is definitely something to be proud of, despite its flaws.

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