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Home | Film Review: Abracadaver! (short film) (2008)

Film Review: Abracadaver! (short film) (2008)



A demented magician hires a new assistant and might make him disappear, forever.


A title which is also a play on words. A tagline which includes the words ‘demented magician’ in it. This has all the ingredients to be another fascinating addition to the independent horror scene. However, it was actually rather average and I felt that the ‘weirdness’ angle of it was overplayed too much for my liking. The acting seemed odd and overplayed, and the pace in general just didn’t transition smoothly. But perhaps this strangeness was done on purpose and for a very deliberate reason. After all, who doesn’t like a bit of quirkiness?

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The interesting thing about this horror short is the matter of its origin. British producer, David McGillivray, had intended for Abracadaver to be a rather different piece of film to the one we’ve ended up with. Allegedly, director Nathan Schiff put his own cut together of the film and submitted it to festivals, where it’s ended up doing rather well for itself (It won the Best Horror Short at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival). Schiff is a bit of a cult figure and well known for his gory style, and Abracadaver is certainly no different – though unfortunately it is pretty much all saved for the end in the case of this particular one.


The gore was well done considering the scale of this short film, and there’s no denying that it was well shot. Though it would have been hard to believe that Nathan Schiff wouldn’t have put most of his effort into getting this side of the horror down, what with his previous work directing ‘Weasels Rip My Flesh’ and ‘The Long Island Cannibal Massacre’. But it just feels like the whole piece was building up to something massive and then it all ended very suddenly, without a proper payoff that the audience deserved. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with ‘setting the scene’ and all of that stuff, but it’s like we’re all just waiting for what we already know is going to happen. Just don’t blink or you’ll miss it! And because the build up was so gradual, the mutilation/splatter finale feels a tad incongruous to the rest of it.

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So if you think you have the patience, and you think you can stomach a rather grisly ending, then by all means give it your time. It’s certainly not a dull watch and does linger on your mind for a while afterwards!

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