The Horror Zine Review
A Film by Caleb Strauss and Dustin Johnson
Directors: Caleb Straus and Dustin Johnson
A Film by Caleb Strauss and Dustin Johnson
Review by C. Dennis Moore
About a year and a half ago I had the pleasure of reviewing Snout Productions’ first movie IT’S OVER, the story of Armageddon as Lucifer destroys the moon, causing worldwide destruction and death. I remember being very impressed with the story Caleb Straus and Dustin Johnson were telling, and wondering what happens after Armageddon. Where do you go from there when you find out, as Straus says on the Snout Productions website and in one of the DVD’s bonus features, that everything you know is wrong?
The second installment of the IT'S OVER trilogy, THE STORYBOOK, answers those questions.
It’s one year later and the world is very slowly recovering from the cataclysms that followed the destruction of the moon. Evangelist Nathaniel Brymstone (Dustin Johnston) is now President of the United States and the Southern USA is splitting into two factions. On the one hand you’ve got those loyal to Brymstone, who see him as the messiah—when in reality he’s the Anti-Christ. You’ve got another group loyal to Zane Enzo (Errich Petersen), leader of the music band Plus, whose message is being carried on. They resist the devil and his temptations and refuse to acknowledge Brymstone as their savior.
Brymstone wants to destroy Plus and its followers, and vice versa. Then there’s Mary Cortez (Reverend Angela Finley), the—I don’t want to say reincarnation of Lilith because it’s never specified she died and was reborn—for all I know she’s existed in her current form for thousands of years, simply unaware of her true identity. Either way, she was at one point Lilith, now she’s Mary Cortez, and her only goal in life is to kill Nathaniel Brymstone and to further Zane Enzo’s message. Complicating matters is of course Lucifer, played once more by Caleb Straus.
THE STORYBOOK feels like a much bigger movie than IT’S OVER, because it is, and not just in length. While most of the action takes place around the Brymstone/Plus story, the much larger story is the one about Lucifer.
THE STORYBOOK goes much more into detail about the history of Lucifer, specifically how he came to be “fallen,” and about the origins of the world. And dammit, this is yet another thrill because just like with IT’S OVER, the Snout guys have thrown an altogether new twist into the creation myth! It felt pretty new to me, and if I am not absolutely positive that it is entirely original, it’s underused enough that it feels fresh. Just what part all of our characters play, and have been playing since the Garden of Eden, this film reveals.
THE STORYBOOK is to IT’S OVER what TERMINATOR 2 was to the original TERMINATOR. Everyone’s back, it’s still the same story, but the ante, in this case, is upped…by a lot.
I really dug this movie. I’d say two thirds of it was filmed on green screen with a lot of funky psychedelic backgrounds added later, giving the movie a very strange vibe, but I think in terms of the type of story they’re telling, it fits the medium. I have to say that moving away from digital video to film and a larger CGI budget would make all the difference in the world. But Snout Productions is still relatively new and I feel that they are well on their way to reaching that point.
The acting is back and forth, I felt it was overdone in a few instances, but dammit if Straus isn’t one charismatic dude. There was a scene where Fuego, a contract killer hired by Brymstone, shakes Lucifer’s hand, and I thought: If it was this devil who held out his hand to me, I’d probably shake it, too. That’s a guy you can hang out with.
I like the work Snout is doing, both in their movies in general (HOMECOMING II is another of theirs I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing), and in the IT’S OVER mythology specifically.
Snout has been releasing the story across several different mediums, including graphic novels and short stories released on their website HERE. They’re really telling a very large story here, but are doing it in a way where it’s easily digestible; pieces at a time, and it seems to be working pretty well. It’s a really good film. I’m very interested in seeing how this story plays out and hope I get the chance to review part three when it’s ready.
Learn about the movie HERE
About the Filmmakers
Caleb Straus and Dustin Johnson are Snout Productions, a completely independent company specializing in film, music, graphic arts, and multimedia. Snout solidified with the release of their first film, "It's Over," beginning a film trilogy and a multimedia mythology about the battle between good and evil and the end of days. After collaborating with Dorell Anthony on the slasher homage "Homecoming II," Johnson and Straus return to their own labor of love with "The Storybook," the second film in the series which was written ,directed, produced and edited entirely by them both.
Both grew up in Abilene, Texas, and began experimenting with music, film, and animation in high school and college. Johnson holds an Associate's degree in Design and Digital Imaging and is the founding member of Snout. Co-creator Straus holds a Master of Arts in Theatre, with an emphasis in Directing. Both are also the masterminds behind the band Emzy Enzy, which has been a musical touchstone for them since the 90's and they score their own films.
The next film in the series will be the final, "It's Over: Nephilim," currently being written.
"The Storybook" is now screening online in chapters at www.snoutproductions.com
About the Reviewer
C. Dennis Moore
C. Dennis Moore is the author of over 60 published short stories and novellas in the speculative fiction genre. Most recent appearances were in the Vile Things anthology, Fiction365.com, Dark Highlands 2, What Fears Become, Dead Bait 3 and Dark Highways. His novel, Revelations, is available in hardcover, trade paperback or ebook formats from Necro Publications. More information is found HERE