All You Can Eat Short Film

A fun display of effects sets the stage for a future feature film.

Synopsis: A young waitress stumbles upon a dark and sinister cabal operating behind the scenes of the fast food diner where she works. She now has the proof she needs to bring this secret to light, but unseen evil forces are unleashed in a bloodthirsty attempt to stop her.

Short films are a specific art form, allowing for the exploration of stories that perhaps don’t suit a longer runtime, but also providing a space for filmmakers to start a creative journey, testing concepts and skills to progress into a feature-length film. All You Can Eat is one of the latter, using 13 minutes that do not quite feel like the start of a feature, but one that acts as a succinct introduction in any case.

Nola (Verity Hayes) is a waitress who is starting to notice more sinister goings-on than the usual idiosyncrasies of her coworkers. When trying to warn a coworker, the secrets are seemingly unleashed on them, kickstarting a fight for survival.

All You Can Eat is clearly a film that takes its styling seriously. From the poster art and lobby card graphics, it is obvious that this is a film that wants to embody that nostalgic B-movie vibe. It maintains this even throughout its restaurant menu-style credits and that level of attention to detail is impressive.

Obviously, much of the focus here is on advertising the progressively gooey special effects and that focus pays off. The design is excellent and better yet, is accompanied by a few perfectly pitched jump scares. An incredibly difficult thing to get right, that it manages it in a short space of time is worthy of praise. Verity Hayes is excellent and focusing on her character’s commentary lends the film a spirited energy.

It is, however, difficult to fully ignore that you are watching a snippet of a feature and that narrative structure does feel lacking. It feels less satisfying than it would without the full context. Despite this, the snippet does introduce numerous concepts that the feature will no doubt expand upon, including a mix of old and new technology with high-energy sequences that promise much more to come.

You can watch All You Can Eat now at the Flying Eyeball webpage.

Mind Leech

A sparky low-budget throwback that will really cling to the right audience.

Synopsis: A very persuasive leech is wreaking havoc in rural Provinstate, 1998. On a mission to expand its horizons, our influential invertebrate enlists the help of the local townsfolk. The Police are soon on the tail of our pesky parasite.

Mind Leech is a film comfortable in its own skin, content to pack fun special effects into a relatively short space of time without feeling the need to add unnecessary padding. It does, perhaps, take a beat too long in the introductory scene, but from there, rattles along at a solid pace.

In taking on a simple, maybe overly familiar idea, the film can instead focus on the fun it has to offer with much of this coming from the effects. Understandably so, given co-director and writer Chris Cheeseman’s experience on films like Jigsaw. Co-director Paul Krysinski also has a wealth of effects experience, which shows in handling the material. Not a single gooey snippet is missed and what self-respecting horror fan doesn’t enjoy the timeless combination of blood and snow?

Steff Ivory Conover makes for a hugely likeable presence as Deputy ‘TJ’ Johnson. In a film at just around the hour mark, you need performers with an immediate impact and she delivers that. With relatively little exposition and a fast pace, that charisma allows for an instant connection.

The film makes the most of its small-town setting, allowing the action to wander while retaining that sense of being somewhat contained. The small-scale setting interacts with the themes set around small-town life, adding meaning to what would otherwise be a purely practical decision that the filmmakers would have to attempt to hide. Keeping the narrative at a manageable scale is commendable and really works in its favour.

This is a low-budget production and at times, it shows. It is also unlikely to present any surprises for frequent horror viewers. Some of this is undoubtedly on purpose, seeking to echo retro monster movies, although it would be nice to have something more surprising to set it apart. This is, however, a very early step for the creators in a directing and writing capacity that gets the basics right, so that is likely to be built upon.

A simple idea, well-executed that will no doubt scratch an itch for those wanting a creature-feature with fun effects and a swift runtime.

3.5 out of 5 stars

3.5 out of 5 stars

Mind Leech is available to view at the MindLeech webpage.