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The Independent Critic

Anthony G. Sumner
Anthony G. Sumner (Co-Writer), Trevor Wright (Co-Writer), Marv Blauvelt (Story)
Deneen Melody, Jerry Murdock, Susan Adriensen, Taylor Metzger, Michael Partipilo, Sara Kellett

 "Lewis" Review 
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If you remember the occult horror cinema of the 70's, and who doesn't, then Anthony G. Sumner's Lewis will turn you on and freak you out. With a relentless devotion to capturing the look and feel of the 1970's Satanic chillers, Sumner has created a film that intertwines the very best and worst that 70's horror had to offer with its excessive gore, eroticism, in-your-face symbolism and seemingly innocent people in not so innocent situations.

Amanda (Deneen Melody, Song of the Shattered) decides to take the advice of her priest (Jerry Murdock) and head out to the the small town of Kronanburg to clear her head after finding her husband in bed with another woman. She and her daughter, Aubrey (Taylor Metzger), are under the watchful eye of Sister Louise (Susan Adriensen) and Aubrey has invited her imaginary friend Lewis to tag along.

When Lewis shows up for a party, all hell seems to break loose.

As the opening credits meander along, Lewis and leading lady Deneen Melody look like they'd be right at home in an episode of Barnaby Jones. With a deceptively jovial original score courtesy of Gene Hodsdon, Lewis starts off on the straight and narrow before taking one seriously hard right detour onto f***ed up boulevard. Lewis is one of four segments to be released this year in what is being called the Psycho Street Anthology, which per the film's website will become a feature film. If the rest of the segments are half as messed up as this one, this is going to be one seriously nutzoid flick.

This is one seriously nutzoid short film, complete with everything we grew to love in the 70's occult cinema including orgies of blood and gore, the faux friendliness that always turned out to be a bad thing, the random acts of violence for no apparent reason and, perhaps most of all, the eerie yet innocent child who could just chill your spine by looking at you.

It's all here.

In fact, it's that aforementioned child that really sells this film. As messed up as this film is and as weird as it is to see a kid right in the midst of it all, it's impossible to deny that young Taylor Metzger nails the look, the voice and, oh yes, the stare to perfection. One is never completely clear what's going on, and to her credit she never gives it away. Metzger's closing scenes are nothing short of chilling acting that leaves you simply staring at the screen in awe.

While the film largely depends on Metzger's performance, it's Deneen Melody who gives the film its emotional core and leaves you feeling gutted as it all winds down. Melody has this incredibly sexy and sweet look with a voice to match, and to her massive credit in the short span of 35 minutes she manages to create a character that intrigues and then sucks you in before spitting you out. Jerry Murdock and Susan Adriensen are both intensely creepy in all the right and wrong ways.

D.P. Eric Richter's camera work is top notch, though it did take a few moments to reconcile the 1970's vibe with Richter's rather pristine imagery courtesy of today's advanced technology. That said, Richter nails the tone and has a masterful ability to capture facial expressions exactly like those good old-fashioned horror flicks from decades past. Kudos as well to the film's production design and costuming team, again maintaining a consistent 70's vibe seamlessly.

It can seldom be said in a horror short that a filmmaker achieves truly horrific results that are also darkly humorous, uncomfortably creepy, awkwardly erotic and chillingly graphic. Yet, Anthony G. Sumner has managed to create one of the year's most freakishly memorable horror shorts. Lewis just played at the 2011 Fright Night Film Festival, and will no doubt see quite a few more indie and horror fest invitations coming its way.

Psycho Street Anthology?

Can't wait.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic