Malakai Tyne Bisel
Malakai Tyne Bisel
I'm not sure what I was expecting before I hit the play button on the short film "Saternus." Definitely, however, it wasn't what I got, and yes, reader, I mean that in the best possible way. From the mind of Malakai Tyne Bisel comes a far-out story that, when you stop to think about it, isn't that far out at all.
"Saternus" allows us to tag along with a handful of con artists who find their "marks" and find out first-hand that the mind is a terrible thing to mess around with. When the brand name of blade-maker rolls off the tongue of three folks in need of some cash, the trio decides to start a religion of sorts based on the name "Saternus" and fill their pockets with the offerings of their congregation. It's all B.S. But their gullible followers don't know that. Right? At some point, Ephraim, the con acting as the religious leader, decides the cult of "Saternus" is more than just a con - and the results are disastrous for his fellow scam patrol. Things quickly go past the point of no return, and even Ephraim's sister Atticus is far, far from safe. What happens next? You'll simply have to watch to find out.
Although it looks and plays pretty damn nicely, "Saternus" still has many of the low-budget hallmarks associated with independent film. Perhaps, there's a line delivery that feels a little "off" here or there, or maybe there's something that doesn't sit "quite" right with the viewer - even though they can't quite figure out what it is. With that written, however, Bisel's flick is a shining example of micro-budget done right - and at some points, I was actually quite impressed by the technical aspects. Hell, reader, certain points in this flick actually flowed better than what I imagine a zillion-dollar budget would have accomplished with a few scenes. Overall, this was a film that I not only awarded four stars - but also feel "earned" each and every one of them.
In the end, "Saternus" vastly exceeded my expectations, and I have no doubt it will find an audience within the horror or thriller genre. It plays with notions we've all wondered about from time to time and even hints at the dangers associated with mental illness - perhaps, actually, it more than hints. There are some layers to explore for anyone who decides to dig a little deeper, but as a quick diversion, "Saternus" more than does the trick. Overall a well-rounded, decently acted short film that I would have no problems recommending to anyone who asks. Four stars.