Review: Used (2016)
It goes without saying that there are many different types of horror films, from PG-13 spookfests like Ouija: Origin of Evil and the Insidious series to gritty slashers like the original Halloween or Friday the 13th. Other horror films are notorious for trying to stun the audience--The Human Centipede and A Serbian Film come to mind. And while these types of movies all have their merit, it's rare that one comes across a picture that combines all of these elements into one--and more importantly, a picture that also has an important message to impart to the viewer. Clocking in at a mere 16 minutes, the horror short Used, directed by Tristan Clay and Destinie Orndoff (Orndoff also wrote the script and stars), is one such film. Produced by Deranged Minds Entertainment, Used tells the gut-wrenching story of one woman's night of terror and her refusal to become a victim.
The film begins on quiet, darkened night in a nameless city. The mood is somber, but also tense and almost eerie. After a night of drinking and clubbing, a young woman named Regan (Orndoff) meets a handsome man (Clayton Abbot) on the street. The man, Donnie, is affable and polite--not overly pushy in any way--and Regan seems to take a subtle liking to him. But the night takes a horrific turn when Donnie slips a pill into Regan's beer bottle. Later, in a cheap motel room, what follows is a terrifying display of aggression and violence that will have even the most seasoned viewer cringing with horror. The script will take you to a a few places you don't expect, and director Clay and actress Orndoff refuse to shy away from that grim and bitter reality. Like Jennifer Hills from 1978's I Spit on Your Grave, Regan is a memorable protagonist, unafraid to confront an evil thrust upon her. With its scruffy low-budget appeal and hardcore practical effects, Used is a short film that is impossible to shake.
As with any low-budget film with a small crew, there are some stumbles in the movie: the soundscape is often uneven and the dialogue does not always ring true. However, who's to say what goes through one's mind (or comes out of one's mouth) during real-life moments of absolute panic and terror? One gets the impression from Regan's character that she has encountered violent men before, and perhaps her experience with Donnie is the pinnacle of such trauma. Too often films of this nature play it safe, but it's clear that the entire cast and crew of Used have no intention of doing so--and for that reason, they are a team to watch. The next project from Deranged Minds Entertainment will be the full-length feature Red Eye, which hopefully will see wide distribution and attract a large following.
The Deranged Minds Entertainment website can be found here. On the site you can watch both Used and an earlier film from the production company titled Sin. With young filmmakers like this around, the future of our beloved genre looks very bright.