Review: Loom (2018)

© David Christopher Pitt

How many horror films, shorts and features, have been constructed around a date, a picnic or a camping trip going horribly wrong in gruesome ways? Plenty, so it is hard to make a new one that makes sense and brings something new to the table. The risks are even higher when it comes to short format, time pressure can be really felt regarding developing the plot points and colouring the tried and tested tropes in a more unusual way. Luckily, the first-time writer-director Kevin Rothlisberger, in daily life otherwise known as an actor in shorts and on television, has some precious ideas for Loom. The film started its festival tour in 2018, and is now available at Grimmfest TV platform of the eponymous British film festival.

We meet Adam (played by Rothlisberger himself) as he prepares the camping ground for his romantic date / sleepover with Shelly (Danielle Argyros). The opening sequence is, however, looming more than it is idyllic: an idol of sorts, that looks like a hybrid of a crucifix and a scarecrow in colourful clothes is seen in an opening shot, and later on we see a coyote in the background as Adam leaves the wooded area. His girlfriend is impressed with his preparation work and, after the dinner beside a campfire, the night takes a romantic turn. Little does Adam know that Shelly is not a regular girl, but a vampire…

The real trouble, however, arrives in a familiar form of four redneck types in a pick-up truck. They are looking for “fun” harassing strangers and a couple of city folks in the woodland area are the ideal victims. But Adam is not a regular dude either, he is a werewolf whose rage will kick in when Shelley opts for teasing the invaders in order to turn the situation so she could use her powers. Will the supernatural abilities pit the couple one against the other?

Rothlisberger, working on a script he wrote with Brock Russell, handles all the three tropes (vampires, werewolves and redneck rapists) quite well that it does not feel inflationary and over-crowded. He usually announces the switches of the trope, the pace and the mood with Daniel Gillette’s musical score operating in different genres, from harmonica blues to synth electronic, which might seem usual, but it is not boring. The practical visual and special effects, complete with a unique creature design, are walking along the lines of retro gore and are hand in hand with the film being set in later 70s, aiming for B-movie nostalgia and achieving it.

Albeit its format of just over 30 minutes challenges the “short” label and could possibly lead to troubles programming the film for a festival with stricter rules regarding the runtime, Loom is quite a satisfying watch. Also, the short that travelled the festivals is a part of an 8-hour TV series created by Rothlisberger and it would be interesting to see it in that context.

Original title: Loom
Year: 2018
Runtime: 32′ 30”
Country: USA
Language: English
Directed by: Kevin Rothlisberger
Written by: Kevin Rothlisberger, Brock Russell
Cinematography by: David Christopher Pitt
Editing by: Kevin Rothlisberger, David Christopher Pitt
Music by: Daniel Gillette
Costume design by: Scott Breihan
Set design by: Kevin Rothlisberger
Special effects by: R.J. Sevin
Assistant directors: Brock Russell, Katie Keppel
Produced by: Kevin Rothlisberger, David Christopher Pitt, Brock Russell
Executive producers: Roger Lewis, John Simmons
Production company: Cyclops Entertainment
Cast: Kevin Rothlisberger, Danielle Argyros, Brando Boniver, Jared Sanz-Agero, Zak Farmer, Mason Conrad