The Horror Zine Review
A Film by Well-Oiled Machine
Directed by Daniel Levitch
Director: Daniel Levitch
A Film by Well-Oiled Machine
Review by Christian A. Larsen
At a mere 43:45 (total running time), Swine could have been much longer. It has all the elements of an epic—which told in book form would have to be a novel—translating to a full-length feature film. What these filmmakers have created feels more like novella on film: a filmella.
I’m sure that he created a trio of shorts as told in three chapters for budgetary reasons, but a longer film could explore and sell the characters better. The music is well-written but performed frugally. The brevity and breakneck speed with which we move through this interesting and surprising concept of a story could make us miss things.
And we don’t want to miss anything, because there is more than one worthwhile surprise packed into this tight little package.
The opening crawl sets the table:
As the colonies of the Motherland increase in both scope and influence,
Join the Colonial Legion or stand their ground.
Members of the resistance group known as Vox Populi have chosen the latter.
The writer, Daniel Levitch, does a fine job setting the table through dialogue and imagery in the opening scene, when Bollinger (Drew Hinckley) removes a couple out of their home and tries to beat the location of Vox Populi out of them.
We instantly know who the good guys are, and that the bad guys are in control, but not enough control for their liking. In other words, Levitch tells us and then shows us. Why not just show us? Nothing is more effective than having a military commander drag civilians from their homes, beat the women and kill the men. The lines of good and bad are sharply drawn, as dramatically drawn as the good and bad in any epic.
The good guys are led by Erikson (Gregory Lee Kenyon) who appears to be as reluctant a leader as he is effective. He was thrown into his situation, and is making the best of it, but he is pained—even haunted—reminding me of Christian Bale’s portrayal of Batman in the Christopher Nolan trilogy.
Wallace (Åsa Wallander) is brave and even more idealistic than the others. She may be the toughest of a gritty group of survivors.
And then there is Rockwell (Brett Davis). His appearance seems to be a double-dip in the tall, dark, and handsome category when added to the group with Erikson, but there are surprises. Oh, yes. Have I mentioned the surprises? Erikson says so outright when he tells Wallace during a firefight: “This is why you don’t trust a soul.” Maybe even one’s own.
To my eye, the actors looked like recent college graduates. Was everyone over the age of 30 destroyed in whatever apocalypse allowed the Colonial Legion to assume power? Bollinger, in particular, was a character I would expect to be older. His power is old. The opening monologue says so outright. He even tents his fingers and uses a quasi-continental accent that misses the mark, but it does create a character that is struggling to be more than he really is—that without the luck of his political placement, he would be a scared boy.
There are many positives to Swine. There’s something delightfully steampunk about this movie. I have the feeling it’s set in the not too distant future, or maybe some off-planet location, or even otherwordly dimension. The soldiers use laser rifles and thermal grenades, but drive standard Jeeps and use pocket watches, flashbulb cameras and slave-driven electric generators. It is effective in making the viewer unsure of his or her surroundings.
It creates unease, and one thing that all of the characters share, it’s unease. Through simple prop tricks, we feel it, too. We are in a sea of instability and warfare, without even a standard set of technology or style. This is no mistake. Levitch is purposeful and the results are effective.
Swine is a fun, watchable filmella. Although shorter than I would have liked, don’t take that to mean you shouldn’t watch it. There are too many clever surprises to miss Swine by choice. I look forward to future creations from the cast and crew. And if you think the lines of good and bad are too clearly drawn—ask yourself: “Who are the swine in this story?”
About the Filmmakers
Koren began telling stories using a Super 8 film camera in grade school. He studied Cinema & Television Arts at CSUN where he produced short films that have screened in festivals around the world. Koren's venture into the film industry began as an intern for Dreamworks Animation and First Look Studios at the Cannes Film Festival. He's been working as a post production professional for the last ten years and specializes in editing and DVD/Blu-ray authoring. He has worked on hundreds of major titles for studios like Fox, Disney, Universal, Weinstein and Warner Bros.
Please visit Koren HERE
Daniel Levitch – Writer/Director
A professional storyteller since 2005, Daniel has created dozens of properties for both film and comics. His passion lies in genre fiction, where he’s free to write about swordfights, gunfights, fistfights, jetpacks, robots, ray-guns, rugged men and beautiful women, rogues, scoundrels, bounty hunters, vikings, conquistadors, samurai, amazons, cowboys, detectives, aviators and above all, adventure.
Please visit Daniel HERE
About the Reviewer
Christian A. Larsen
Christian A. Larsen grew up in Park Ridge, Illinois and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has worked as a high school English teacher, a radio personality, a newspaper reporter, and a printer's devil. His work has appeared in magazines such as Golden Visions, Lightning Flash, An Electric Tragedy, Eschatology, Indigo Rising, and Aphelion. He lives with his wife and two sons in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Visit him online at www.exlibrislarsen.com and follow him on Twitter @exlibrislarsen.