- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Massacre at Femur Creek

Also known as:

Year: 2014

Genre: Short / Comedy / Horror / Slasher

Language: English

Runtime: 19 min

Director: Kyle Hytonen

Writer: Kyle Hytonen


To celebrate a birthday, three friends head out into the woods to party with alcohol and drugs. It becomes clear that the friends are not alone when they're visited by a knife-wielding maniac.

Our thoughts:
Kyle Hytonen's work was recently reviewed with his short film "Follow", an underwhelming mockumentary that I couldn't find much of value in. Mostly because it didn't offer anything new. His new film, "Massacre at Femur Creek" takes upon another over-done subgenre of horror. We're talking about the slasher genre. And it's not as serious in tone as "Follow" was, becoming another silly throwback.

The short opens up with what might be the best scene of the movie - a woman waling on a road, trying to light her cigarette when a serial killer runs into her. With his knife. This was amusing because of how little she cared, since her night had been shitty already. After this, we're introduced to the 3 leads of the movie, and unfortunately it goes south from there. Three stoner friends decide to celebrate the birthday of one of them out in the woods, but there's also a killer running around the woods.

While the movie has a few turns that might be unexpected for the genre, it is still just another slasher throwback that either makes fun of itself or the genre (it's hard to tell). I don't want to be so hard on Kyle Hytonen because there's definite potential in him as a filmmaker, but he does make it hard for me to compliment his worth. He just picks the most common subgenres to make shorts in, and doesn't take enough of a risk to reinvent the wheel in any way.

If I'm gonna hand out some compliments, it'll have to be to cinematographers John Michael Forbes and Michael Key and composers Gregory Barnes and Jupiter-8. The movie looks a lot better than a lot of other slasher films we review, which at least makes the movie somewhat tolerable. And the soundtrack is a nice synth score which fits the era it tries to honor.

Despite a few turns that might be unexpected, "Massacre at Femur Creek" overall is forgettable, overdone and has few stand-outs. Slasher throwbacks, whether they are comedic or not, is something that I've grown tired of a long time ago, since that's the go-to subgenre for indie filmmakers. The closest the short gets to being interesting is the few jokes about modern technology (as the movie is set in the '80s). But, essentially, the short looks good and the score is appealing, and that's the most compliments I can give. Eventually I am sure I will see something a lot more original and interesting from filmmaker Kyle Hytonen, it seems like he has it in him. I'll just have to wait and see.

Positive things:
- Good cinematography. It looks a lot better than expected.
- It also sounds better than expected, thanks to a neat synth score.
- The opening was fun.

Negative things:
- It is, no matter how horrible I feel for saying it, just another slasher throwback.
- The jokes fell flat after the opening.

Gore: 2/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 1/5
Effects: 1.5/5
Comedy: 2.5/5

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