The Horror Zine Review
A Film by Micah Levin
Director: Micah Levin
A Film by Micah Levin
Review by Christopher Nadeau
Opus is part of the deconstructionist school of horror films that not only seek to frighten, but also to offer up some form of social criticism in the process. It’s the kind of self-referential approach to filmmaking that was unique in the late Nineties but has become a staple nowadays.
Still, there’s a boldness in Writer/Director Micah Levin’s approach. The film centers around six aspiring actors and one reluctant tag-along brought together to a bizarre structure in the middle of the desert. They are there to participate in a movie about which they know nothing. They are so excited to be part of the film that none of these characters are suspicious.
But the real character here is the movie itself. Director Micah Levin has stated as much, adding, “I love the idea of a film having its own unique perspective, and for me the perspective is the character of the killer.”
Much of the perspective Levin speaks of manifests itself in the form of interesting camera angles and phenomenal editing. The claustrophobic sets create some truly fascinating moments, and while it’s fun to watch the drama unfold from the killer/director’s perspective, sometimes the overhead shots calls too much attention to the technique.
Still, Levin establishes an effective mood of uncertainty in Opus. By wisely deciding to conceal the script details from the actors in real life, they are forced to dig down into their psyches in order to summon the necessary drama as opposed to reacting to stagey descriptions. And this film is not at all stagey; Opus is refreshingly spontaneous. In fact, the set design is organic, harkening back to the days when entire horror films took place in creepy places as opposed to different locales.
Opus shares many similarities with a Canadian film called Cube released in 1997. In that film, the principles each awaken in different rooms of a cube-shaped construct, each one possessing unique gifts that could aid them in their escape. Both films feature “everyday” characters trying to come to grips with a claustrophobic situation and both end in similar ways.
Despite the similarities, Opus is unique enough to stand on its own. Levin’s film features a host of fascinating ideas: from Craigslist weirdoes, to bad relationships, to the desire for fame superseding all else. The film makes a genuine attempt at social commentary and, for the most part, succeeds.
The brutal killings are glimpsed in rapid, jump-cut edited flashes, most likely because that’s how the killer sees what he’s doing. We know the killer’s using sharp objects but what exactly the weapon of choice is remains unknown. This stands in stark contrast to slasher horror films, where the weapon is as much a character as he who wields it.
Overall, Opus is a fascinating film to watch. It is visually interesting and expertly edited. The concept is strong and, with more development (possibly a sequel?), it could become its own successful franchise. Micah Levin is certainly a writer/director to watch.
See the movie here:
About the Filmmaker
OPUS is Micah Levin’s feature directorial debut. Micah has been acting, directing and producing from a young age. In 2006, he formed MMM with a group of his peers to create innovative content across a wide range of mediums.
Since graduating from Emerson College, he has been professionally directing and editing commercials, music videos, short film and has recently edited two feature-films for director Brett Leonard (Lawnmower Man, Virtuosity), one of the executive producers of OPUS. In 2008, Micah co-directed a comedy pilot for executive producer Kevin Bright (Friends). Micah’s short films have appeared in numerous festivals and have one awards including: Best Short at the International Film Festival in Hollywood (Beanz), Audience Award at the 48hour Film Fest Boston (Gro), and was nominated as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts in 2005. Micah’s work reflects a strong passion for art, design, innovation and storytelling.
OPUS has recently won awards at the Los Angeles Art-house Film festival, including Second Place for Best Feature, and First Place for Best Production Design and Best Editing.
About the Reviewer
Christopher Nadeau is the author of the novel Dreamers at Infinity's Core available through COM Publishing's Sword & Science imprint and Amazon as well as the short story, "Rosa, Rosa Come out of Your Room" in the horror anthology, Saturday Evening Ghost.
He was recently interviewed on Suspense Radio as part of its up and coming authors program and has collaborated on a “machinima” film with UK animator Celestial Elf called The Gift, which can be viewed on YouTube. He has also written and published over a hundred print and online articles ranging in subject matter from local politics to pop culture and New Age cults, the latter providing inspiration for a novel currently in the works.
Christopher lives and works in Southeastern Michigan and is an active member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers.