I’ve never been noodling, but I imagine blindly thrusting one’s bare arm into the mouth of a catfish is not all that different from watching independent horror. Both find you wading through the muck and the mire with nothing more than a hope in your heart that the setting of the sun finds you with ten fingers, ten toes and, if you’re lucky, something to show for the painful ordeal.
I get a complaint from time to time that I review films people have either no chance or no desire to see. And that’s a valid gripe. I understand that you’d rather read about films on your horizon, but the truth is HND would be a very different landscape if I actually reviewed even half the stuff I get asked to take a look at. Frankly most of the films I’m fortunate enough to have come my way are not worth the time it takes me to write about them and are definitely not worth the time it would take you to read about them. So please indulge me on the rare occasion I actually enjoy a movie the general public has little practical chance of ever seeing.
THE LANDLORD is a horror comedy shot for less than $23,000, and I’m not bringing up that number out of surprise at what was accomplished for such a relatively little sum. Knowing that budget sets the stage. Emil Hyde’s film has uneven production values and it shows in almost ever scene. But what’s hurt by lack of funds is made up for by a truly amiable script that is laugh-out-loud funny and consistently entertaining throughout.
Tyler owns an apartment building haunted by two demons in the service of a blood thirsty Babylonian Goddess who keep eating his tenants. He’s already on the shitlist of two local cops who’ve noticed his inability to keep renters around for more than a week or two. His sister is an adulterating dirty cop who regularly squeezes bribes out of street vampires and the constant need to paint over bloody walls is turning him into an alcoholic. But if all of that isn’t bad enough for our poor landlord, a potential love interest has just signed a lease at the demon buffet.
Oddball plot, I know, but that’s what defines THE LANDLORD. Emil Hyde has essentially made an hour and a half long horror sitcom. Imagine if one of the unimportant demons from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER had their own zanny spin-off show and you might have a good idea of what Hyde’s film entails. The look of the main demon is even reminiscent of the brow-heavy, spiny-jaw, green-skin makeup effects that span across both BUFFY and ANGEL. Granted the makeup effects aren’t quite as good as a multimillion dollar TV show, but the spirit is there.
Obviously the small budget and do-it-yourself gusto that comes with it results in a less than perfect assembly of film, but that’s not the point. Films like THE LANDLORD will never wow you with their flawed sound design or amateur actors, but in the right hands they can charm the hell out of you despite the many technical shortcomings. Which is not to say that Emil Hyde has no talent behind the scenes, quite the contrary, actually.
Anyone who spends time sifting through home movies made by people who have no idea what barn doors refers to will be relieved to finally see a film with actual lighting and set design. It’s not going to win any cinematography awards, but the effort is there and it goes a long way. As do the original music and decent special effects. Sure, I can think of lesser indie horror films that have better acting, cooler gore or slicker experience with Adobe After Effects, but not many in this budget range pull off a script as amusing as THE LANDLORD’s. Nor are many of this ilk capable of making you overlook glaring shortfalls.
It’s an entertaining effort in it’s own right, but there’s another reason I’m happy to give a nod to Emil Hyde’s directorial debut. It should be a kick in the pants to anyone who sits on their laurels lamenting all the movies they never act on making, which is a group I’ve sadly been a part of for far too long. Considering THE LANDLORD was made for less money than most people spend on a their car, it’s existence is proof that the obstacles are all in your head. It doesn’t matter that you’re a first timer. Give that script you only talk about when you’re drunk a shot. Don’t worry about making a flawless film, but don’t be lazy either. You might have to drive a beater for a few years, but you may just end up making a movie as fun as THE LANDLORD.
It’s not something I’d recommend to just anyone, but if you’re a regular reader around these parts and you’ve got an open-minded sense of humor chances are I’m not going to steer you too far off course by pointing you towards this secret link. At the very least I can think of far worse ways to spend $12.