I don’t typically review short films, but did manage to stumble across two exceptional ones (Eaglewalk/30-minutes and The Curse Of Yig/32-minutes) a few years ago that I reviewed for You Won Cannes, but even then I don’t typically review short films that run less than 20-minutes. To make it worth my viewing pleasure I need a short flick that runs at least the length of a cartoon sans commercials. When I stumbled across Hellyfish, which I think was mentioned for the first time on Dread Central (I stress, I think), I naturally thought it was news of a new full-length movie, but realized it was a new short film coming out. Okay, no matter, what’s the run time? I found out later it was 12-minutes. Okay, I’m out. Too bad that trailer looked sweet. When it finally hit YouTube last October I watched it and for a 12-minute flick it’s pretty solid. So solid that when I discovered the Hellyfish makers were putting it on DVD I just had to review it. So in conclusion it seems if less than 20-minute short films are solid I don’t seem to have a problem with them. Yup, you learn something new every day.
I like the title. Do you get it? “Jellyfish from hell?” Hellyfish? I knew you could.
The poster is also pure eye candy. Another reason I quickly gravitated to it. Plus I love monster movies and I don’t think we’ve ever had one about mutant jellyfish.
The movie starts off with this disturbing real life fun fact . . .
And then it hits you over the head with this so far fictional (knock on wood) fun fact . . .
After above mentioned Iranian terrorist (Mohammed Sinbawy) dives down to find the bomb (while wearing the head portion of a burka. Priceless), and manages to find it, he accidentally kicks a lever that leaks its radioactive sickness into the water. Jellyfish flock to him and his miserable life is over.
Location: Tybee Island, GA
Status: About to get hit with a thunderstorm, giant mutant jellyfish and a hot, blonde Russian spy (Agnes Asplund). That’s a hell of a combo. Add one of them ‘real doll’ sex dolls, and a pizza to that and your night is made in the shade.
Apparently for weeks a record number of jellyfish have been washing up on shore with no real explanation, but someone knows, someone out there has a pretty good feeling what’s causing it and his name is Captain Shaw (Gary Hill). It doesn’t matter no one will listen, not even the reporter (Maggie Hart) trying to interview him. He’s not really trying anyway, so onto the rest of the jellyfishes’ potential victims.
It’s a short film so I can’t get in depth with the review like I normally do with full length movies, but the beach is littered with still living victims. We briefly meet some dude eating cheese balls and getting drunk (Mehmet Caglayan), a dude scrounging the beach with a metal detector (Andrew McClelland), a photographer (co-director Patrick Longstreth) and his model (Sheena Jade Kersey), hot, female triplets (Lillian Masie, who also graces the poster/DVD cover) calling a life guard (Nikita Carpenter) a douche bag, in the cutest way possible, a mother (Jessica Lebos) and her two kids (Abraham Lebos & Liberty Lebos), two of Jersey Show’s finest (Anthony Paderewski & Gregory Broome). and last but not least the Crab King mascot (Kevin Longstreth), whose best antics can be viewed in the outtakes. Yeah, I too thought someone was going to punch him. These are your victims, people.
The CGI is pretty damn good. With 21st century creature features I scrutinize the computer effects with a fine tooth comb, which means if the CGI monsters don’t come off as “real,” then I’m out. Bad CGI tanks a movie in so many ways I can even begin tell you. The SyFy channel knows a lot about this, yet oddly the CGI shark in their 3 Headed Shark Attack (2015) movie was good. Actually, I think it was a production of The Asylum, but Asylum, SyFy, same difference. In Hellyfish the menacing sea creatures range from normal sized to immense and the bigger they got the better looking the CGI was, with the Godzilla-sized version looking the best. Usually it’s the other way around in the plethora of monster movies I’ve seen over the years. The smaller the CGI effect the more realistic it comes off.
The gore is extremely minimal (bad news for you gorehounds), there’s only two effects in this category and both involve hands being sliced off by razor sharp tentacles. For the most part your looking at 12-minutes of 50s-style monster movie violence as the creatures pick off random beach goers with each attack showing a bigger and bigger monster until the queen mother money shot of them all comes lumbering on shore, ending the flick just as those two aforementioned kids are about to become jellbait.
That doesn’t mean we humans don’t get in a few good shots of our own. The Russian spy gets in the best as she takes out one with a rocket launcher that’s latched itself onto a helicopter and one of the Jersey shore “mongoloids” gets in a personal best of his own with a ball.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen—5.1 English Dolby Digital—No subtitles.
I thought the transfer on the DVD was a bit better than what’s on YouTube, but it may be just a simple case of seeing it on a bigger screen than a computer monitor. Either way I being more into physical media will always prefer the DVD version.
- Directors Commentary With Patrick Longstreth and Robert Mclean
- Trailer (with is also on YouTube)
- Behind The Scenes (3;10)
- Visual Effects Breakdown (3:08)
- Outtakes (2:33)
- Photo Gallery (65 photos)
- Kiteboarding (With Brady King)
As you can tell by the extra features everything you ever wanted to know about the making of the short film version (uh-oh, spoiler, hint-hint) of Hellyfish is right there at your fingertips. A lot of this movie was created in the computer, including backdrops for the weather, and surprisingly the triplets, which fooled me. I thought those three chicks were actual flesh and blood siblings. Nope, there was one flesh and blood chick cloned twice in the computer for those scenes.
This is a nice stylized creature feature comedy where for the most part all the computer effects help, not hurt, Longsteth’s second short and Mclean’s first. On the back of the DVD is a blurb from Hellhorror stating, “Screams SyFy in a good way.” Yeah, I’ll agree with that. This is the quality I’m sure SyFy wish they had in their movies. Which brings me to one final Hellyfish present. Building on that spoiler I hinted at a paragraph earlier this short flick was a revealed to be a proof-of-concept endeavor and since it proved highly successful at most of the festivals it made the rounds at Hellyfish is now being developed as a full length feature, which makes this reviewer particularly happy.