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The Independent Critic

Christina Mauro, Stacy Jorgensen, Amy Blackwood
Kai Blackwood
16 Mins.

 "Cupcake" Review 
In Tinseltown, the roads are paved with the ashes of those whose dreams were left unmet by a town simultaneously beautiful and cruel. Cupcake (Christina Mauro) knows this to be true. An aging actress rejected yet again for some blonde bimbo with bigger tits, Cupcake concocts a diabolic plan to turn herself back to the sweet days of her glorious youth. As her plan unfolds, it becomes clear that this isn't the first time that Cupcake has sacrificed a lot to make it in Hollywood.

Written and directed by Kai Blackwood, Cupcake is a deliciously sweet and evil 16-minute horror short that won the Gold Medal for Excellence at Park City Film Music Festival and the Bronze Award in Fantasy/Horror at Worldfest Houston. The film is the perfect remedy for the horrible Hollywood drivel being released this Halloween season. I mean, really, do we really need another Paranormal Activity? Can't we just kill them all in one film and save everyone time and money?

Creating an effective horror short is quite the challenging task. You have to have the perfect weaving together of substantial characters, compelling story and just the right amount of time for the suspense and horror to set in. Oh sure, this is essentially true for any horror film. However, accomplishing these tasks within the framework of a 16-minute film is extraordinarily challenging.

Mission accomplished.

You may recall that a few years back the folks at Fly High Films showed up at the Heartland Film Festival with the well done indie project Little Big Top, a favorite of The Independent Critic. A year or two later, the outfit swept into my Top 10 Films for the year with Travis Betz's incredibly sweet and romantic Sunday. Last year, the Christina Mauro-led Stellina Blue became yet another exceptional film from the Fly High folks. In short, Fly High Films may be a bit under the radar but they are producing some high quality feature and short film projects.

Add Cupcake to the list.

Christina Mauro is back again, this time as the "aging" actress with a mystical way of combating that darn aging problem that keeps getting in the way of her Hollywood career. If you'd ever met the delightful Mauro in real life, you'd realize what an absolute stretch it is, or at least it seems, for her to be front and center as such an off-kilter seductress with equal parts sweetness and sadism. Mauro's Cupcake is sassy and sincere and, well, completely horrifying. Supporting players Amy Blackwood and Stacy Jorgensen also perform quite ably here, building the film's intensity without going too far over-the-top or giving away its secrets.

Writer/director Kai Blackwood plays it smart by building the film as a slice of horror rather than the full cinematic pie, creating a story from beginning to end yet also creating a central character so compelling that you could see her hanging around for a full-length feature. Blackwood seems to know that sometimes what is not seen nor spoken is sometimes more frightening, and with Cupcake much of the discomfort comes from never really knowing what's coming up next.

Cupcake continues on the film festival circuit. For more information on the film, visit the Fly High Films website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic