Running Time: 72 minutes
Reviewer: David Gillespie – HCF Official Artist
Thomas Lee Rutter’s experimental, horror anthology, The Forbidden Four is a hypnotic mixed bag of nightmarish visuals, unholy sound effects and psychedelic lighting filters. Introduced by a twisted, cockney clown, the four stories are connected by a young, struggling writer called Donald (Shane Moroney). Warned by his menacing publishing chiefs that he had better cure his writer’s block or suffer the painful circumstances, Donald flees to a remote cottage for inspiration. He encounters this from a mutant lobster that proceeds to peel open his skull and attach itself to his brain. Promising to open his four forbidden chambers, the young writer begins to type up four weird and eclectic yarns.
Antigone and Polynices is a Greek tragedy/ acid-fest featuring the grim consequences of two feuding brothers. A Child’s Toy has an evil doll causing mayhem while a young girl sleeps in her bed. The Catalyst follows the extreme lengths a disillusioned artist (James Underwood) will go to get create paintings with soul. Finally Solstice at the Midlife Circus of a Middle Aged Man is a kaleidoscope of freaky clown close-ups and abstract images.
The Forbidden Four is as strange as it comes. Rather than going for gore effects and shock tactics, the director uses coloured filters and obscure camera angles to disorientate the viewer into a sense of unease. The whole project has a surreal and nightmarish quality to it. Some of the tales are experimental and don’t seem to make much sense. The Catalyst, featuring a reborn and living painting and the creepy stop-motion puppet doll in A Child’s Toy are the highlights.
The downside of the project is that the sound effects occasionally drown out what is being said by the actors. For instance the mutant lobster’s voice is almost incoherent resulting in the plot being very difficult to follow at times.
The Forbidden Four is an inventive, ambitious and sometimes amusing collection of weird ideas and images. Although the project does suffer from a lack of budget, there is an energy and enthusiasm that can only bode well for future productions from Carnie Film Productions. I would probably recommend that the beer swilling fraternity stay clear of this film. There is no telling what long term damage this would do to someone’s sanity if attempted to view while under the influence of any form of drug or suspicious substance.