I’ve never reviewed a movie on my blog, but I’m making an exception today.
Recently I watched “Danger Word”, a short film recently brought to the screen by a successful crowdfunding venture. It’s based on the apocalyptic sci-fi short story of the same name by husband-and-wife team Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due. The short story has also sparked full length YA horror novels Devil’s Wake and Domino Falls and has been garnering a good deal of attention.
Zombie movies are plentiful as any horror lover knows and can be hard to keep fresh. The opening scene features a grizzled old man and his baby-faced granddaughter at shooting practice in the woods. Quickly, we learn that this is not for fun; it’s a lesson that the granddaughter, Kendra must learn to survive.
One of the most difficult lessons comes when Grandpa Joe, played perfectly by veteran actor Frankie Faison (best known perhaps for his role in “The Silence of the Lambs” movie franchise), drives past a woman in a car with several children all screaming for help. The car has broken down and it is apparent from earlier scenes that the zombies are moving toward them. Kendra is quietly concerned, but is told that there was no alternative if they want to stay alive.
Grandpa is Kendra’s (played by Saoirse Scott) only adult figure now and he’s teaching her to survive. Toughening her up. I appreciated the girl’s messy ponytail, complete with fuzzy tufts of hair, as it showed there are more important things to be concerned with. So many movies tend to show women and girls somehow retaining their makeup and hairstyle after numerous brushes with death.
Now for the zombies.
Yes, there the typical lumbering, groaning corpse-like creatures. There are even “runners” in this world that make escape more of a challenge. But “Danger Word” ups the ante. The zombies can speak. That was new for me in a movie of this type. One more reason you can’t let your guard down—evolving zombies.
This short film has also has a comedic moment or two along with its horror and tragedy. Pretty impressive for a running time of less than 20 minutes. And the two main characters are well cast for their roles.
My understanding is that this short film came to be because of successful crowdfunding because Due and Barnes had challenges with Hollywood picking up the movie. The reaction was: “Great pitch! But do the characters have to be black?”
Now that the short film has been released, it has been picked up by Spike Lee’s wife Tonya Lewis Lee for a full-length feature. That may take a while to come to fruition, but you can watch the short film “Danger Word” here.
One of my favorite lines from the movie was when Grandpa Joe tells Kendra to “stop being small.” Most of us—especially indie artists—can take this advice to heart as well. The success of “Danger Word” and its crowd funding shows that we have the strength and the power to bring our visions to fruition.
It’s time that we as independent writers, filmmakers, artists stop being and thinking small and get our work in the public eye. Talk about it. Ask people about it. Start a campaign. You never know what may happen.