Director Peter Dukes has been making budget short films since 1999. In this piece, Tim and I review two of his more recent efforts. The first is a horror/fantasy werewolf film entitled The Beast starring Bill Oberst, Jr. The other is an award-winning fantasy/science fiction short entitled The New World starring Katy Townsend.
One criterion on which to judge a short is its ability to make the viewer forget that he or she isn’t watching a feature-length film, and Peter Dukes’ The Beast succeeds in doing precisely that. Generally speaking short horror films are marred by lazy camera work, weak storylines and even worse acting. The Beast avoids all of these pitfalls. Both the acting and cinematography are excellent, invoking a timeless vibe reminiscent of many films from the 50s and 60s.
Since The Beast is a short film I’m hesitant to get into plot details, lest I give away the entire thing. But I will say that it’s a werewolf movie and a darn good one for that matter; the film runs only 12 minutes long, and yet it is significantly better than all of the Twilight films. It’s really quite a shame that we don’t see feature length films like this anymore – it’s a lost art.
You can (and should) watch The Beast on Youtube.
RT Score: 90%
The New World
The New World is a brightly-colored silent fantasy adventure that follows the Wandering Fairy (Katy Townsend) as she explores the strange world of modern human civilization. Supported by excellent but minimal special effects, director Peter Dukes makes good use of his tools as he crafts a convincing dichotomy between the innocent nature of the film’s protagonist and the industrial world we all live in. The movie even manages to pose an interesting (but vague) question about both the beauty of simple life goals and the peril of accepting mundanity as a mode of existence.
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows with The New World, of course. While I’m a big fan of silent filmmaking, one of my biggest pet peeves is soundless dialogue. Short of the on-screen titles common in films from the beginning of the 20th century, I believe most conflict, exposition, and action can be expressed through facial expression, body language, and music. As such, the scene between the Wandering Fairy and the Fairy Queen felt a little forced to me. It is a minor quibble, but it did briefly take me out of the film.
Ultimately The New World is a light, fun adventure that brings up some interesting questions without ever cementing a concrete thesis. If you have some time, I recommend you check out the short on Youtube.