By Sharon Foss
It’s a bright, sunny day at Kirksdale Hospital, where people are staying until they get their heads on straight. Unfortunately for some, a crazed patient has taken over the hospital with the help of other patients, and anyone who isn’t one of “them” is going to pay.
Sounds pretty typical for a horror movie, right? We’ve all seen it before, so why bother? You should bother, because KIRSKDALE is different. It’s a short film by Ryan Spindell that makes you wish for more and at the same time, breath a sigh of relief that it is over when it ends.
The film begins with a police officer and the patient he is dropping off (Joshua Mikel and Jessica Mansfield) arriving at the hospital. It’s not long before they fall into the hands of David, the “new” doctor on staff, played by Greg Thompson. Looks like the doc wants to show the officer just what goes on behind the walls of this seemingly innocent institution.
Writer Bradford Hodgson and writer/director Spindell invite us into a 20-minute horror fest that will do more for horror taste buds than any full-length feature film can do. In fact, I think if this was a feature film, it would most certainly fall into the same cliché of mental-institution-patients-gone-awry movies that we’ve all seen before. Many thanks to Spindell and his crew for not doing that to this film. By leaving it at this length, viewers can appreciate it for the great movie it is.
KIRSKDALE is a 2008 winner of the Jury Award for Best Short Film at The Chicago Horror Film Festival and received the Festival Prize for Best Short Film at the 2008 Shriekfest. It also won Best Short and Best Student Film at the Rhode Island International Horror Film Festival. That’s right—student. Spindell was a film student when he made KIRSKDALE, yet you wouldn’t know it was the work of a novice. The special effects, the script, the sets, and even the music packed punch into this short film.
I’m not sure it’d have been the same film without Greg Thompson. His eerily calm patient/doctor character stayed with me long after the screen faded to dark, because his voice is heard calmly rationalizing why it is okay for him to want to “help” people. “I can take care of that for ya” is the last thing you hear when the credits begin to roll, said with such cadence that it made me shiver. It is reminiscent of Anthony Hopkins in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS; a cool and composed voice that is the exact opposite of what lies behind the smile.
I can’t say enough about KIRSKDALE. It’s 20 minutes of something simple—a great film.
5 out of 5