Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'The Tell Tale Heart' (2020), a host film.
Madness lay within the heart of a man...
This one is gonna be rife with -SPOILERS-, but c'mon. It's The Tell Tale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe.
I was particularly impressed by this retelling of Poe's classic, The Tell Tale Heart. Those familiar with my reviews, know I'm not fond of poetry, and though I've reviewed some books of poetry in the past (like The Configuration Discordant, by John Baltisberger), poetry is usually not my cup of tea. Poe was always an exception to that rule, and while my love of Poe isn't terribly nuanced or refined, it is love, none the less. Screwing up one of my favorite poems by Poe could spell certain doom for any series or film under my scrutiny. Moreover, a shameless rehash of something that fall under public domain is another good way to compel my ire.
This, however, not only did the source material justice, but like the newest rendition of H. P. Lovecraft's Color Out of Space (2019), the director/writer managed to make it his own thing, and in this respect, special.
There are two classic interpretation of Poe's Tell Tale Heart. The first (being the most common), is of a scoundrels individual, bent on taking advantage of an old, feeble, rich man. He then goes mad from the guilt of his murder, hearing the ever beating heart of his dead victim, and from this eventually confesses to the crime. The second is a more devastating tale of whoa, I think. There in, it is postulated that the old man is a particularly vicious and villainous individual, and his servant murders him after years of abuse and trauma. The trauma predating the murder causes not guilt, but rather a demonic hallucination of the servant's master tormenting him there after, with the sound of his ever beating sinister heart.
This retelling spins it in a different third way. When the story open, the servant is already quite mad. One can only speculate as to why, but the old man seems kind enough. This suggests that the derangement of the servant was simply a part of his character. Because the servant was already mad, he superimposes a sinister nature over the old man, who in reality is quite harmless and even kind. The characteristics Poe prescribed the old man which originally made him seem sinister, are merely reflections of the servants deranged point of view.
Their use of the source material was already impressive, I should say, but the quality was pretty good too. It should be noted, this has the same production value as the movie Lo (2009). That means the production value is likely just a hair over 'student film.' Meaning I am grading on a bit of a curve, do to the shoe-string budget. But, like Welcome to the Horror Show, I don't even have to as they tempered their lack of budget by focusing on the simplistic and getting it perfect.
So the acting is good for horror, the practical FX brilliantly used, the atmosphere well developed and smartly applied.
One of my favorite parts about this movie is actually the acting and how they reconcile the language of the narrator (the servant), with the modern setting. The flowery prose of the narrator from the original telling are a bit antiquated for a modern setting, so, they made that part of the servant's derangement. He talks like an old timey theater actor as part of his madness.
This drives home the motivations behind his character and the reasoning for the plot as it unfolds. The servant holds himself in such high esteem, and considers himself a man of such impressive refinement, that he finds the decrepit characteristics of the old man to be disturbing or even disgusting. Indeed, the old man's eye problems, are not just the signs of age, they are the mark of evil itself. This is how, through madness, the servant justifies his actions.
I did not think such an unique take on this classic work of Edgar Allan Poe was possible, and that alone is reason enough to watch this short.
Follow them on Twitter @telltalefilm, for the official release date!