Directed By Jessi Gotta
Jessi Gotta has been featured on this blog before, both in an interview for her contributions as a fantastic woman in horror and in a review of the feature length film The Big Bad, in which Jessi starred.
Tonight, I am proud to review her directorial debut, a twisted zombie romance short film titled Anniversary Dinner.
The film has just begun making the film festival rounds and already has garnered some major attention. The short won the Prestige Film Award‘s Gold Award for short film and also earned an award of merit from the Accolade Film Competition.
This twelve-minute short introduces us to a husband, Frederick, who won’t let anything or anyone tear apart his marriage.
Seeing as how it is their anniversary, Frederick pulls out all the stops to ensure the couple have a romantic candle light dinner, complete with his wife’s favorite courses, in spite of the chaos happening in the world around them.
When his sister makes a surprise visit (gotta love family sometimes..), the couple’s dark secret is exposed and the real horror begins.
I absolutely love the teaser line from this film- “A survivor of the zombie apocalypse is about to discover that ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ was just the beginning.”
Jessi Gotta has a unique ability to pack a serious punch in a short amount of time. Drawing from a personal emotional reservoir, Gotta is able to really tap deep into the psychological sorrow that Frederick is drowning in. I felt instantly connected to the poor husband as he desperately tried to keep his life on some sort of track.
Brian Silliman aces the role of Frederick, from the anxiety before the dinner to the bloody climax. Silliman was also co-writer on the project.
Gotta will never be confused for a one-trick pony, and she continues to show off her versatility in this film, playing the role of wife Leigh.
Alyssa Simon plays sister Beth, who just happens to walk into the wrong bedroom at the wrong time.
Special effects were handled masterfully by Jane Rose, who also did the effects for The Big Bad. One key for zombie films, at least in my eyes, is the ability to take advantage of the special effect opportunities you have. Low budget shorts are called that for a reason, and Rose brings forth Gotta’s visions of gore with gruesome intensity.
Stephanie Cox-Williams, who served as an extra in The Big Bad and has experience in the world of horror make-up, served as effects/make-up assistant and camera assistant.
What this film lacks for in running time it more than makes up for in originality, story-telling and passion. Gotta loves what she does, and her dedication is clearly infectious judging by the phenomenal performances of her co-stars.
Jessi Gotta doesn’t just make horror films to scare you, she makes them to tell a story.
If only every Anniversary Dinner were this entertaining.
My Grade: 10/10