Sunday, October 15, 2017

Review: The Short Films of Dakota Bailey 2014-2015

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2017
Images from the Internet

The Short Films of Dakota Bailey 2014-2015
Written, produced, directed and edited by Dakota Bailey
R.A. Productions
About 30 minutes, 2017

If you are familiar with any of the trilogies of filmmaker Dakota Bailey’s work, you know his subgenre of super gritty and grainy life of the denizens of the lowest of low, consisting of nothing but serial killers, drug sellers and addicts, prostitutes and generally people with whom you would not want to be on the same street as, never mind the same room.

Like most auteurs, Bailey started small with short films as he developed his style that remains pretty unique, as there is no one I can think of who presents characters and situations so socially corrupt with a fly on the wall creepy feeling, and yet makes them feel alive and fearsome. These three shorts have now been released in a collection as a companion to his features.

As the director explains: “While these short films are not masterpieces, they are important because this is where our filmmaking style originated, and these shorts provided us with a template to build off of. Without these shorts, films like The Acid Sorcerer [2017, reviewed HERE], American Scumbags [2016, reviewed HERE] or My Master Satan: 3 Tales of Drug Fueled Violence [2016, reviewed HERE] may not have existed."

As most of his features are three intertwining tales, it only makes sense that this release is comprised of three of his shorts. The consistency of his characters, even if he considers some of his films in the horror genre and others not, makes this for an enjoyable WTF viewing (in a good way). I’ve enjoyed all of the Bailey films I have watched, even though they could practically all run together and it would still work. I have watched the growth from his first film right to his latest. He also shows that if someone wants to just pick up a camera and start filming, it can be done, much in the way so many people heard the gritty guitar of Johnny Thunders and wanted to start a band.

Scumbags: A Day in the Life of a Drug Dealer
8:08 minutes, 2014
Despite it being Bailey’s first film, so many of the footprints that would appear in his features are already there, such as the insertion of character description and story bit title cards, and the travelog footage of drug dealer Marshall (Matt Marshall) driving around giving way too much information about his crimes away on a cell phone (hey, Marshall, that’s illegal!) which also works for passing along exposition to the viewer.  There is an inconsistent sound quality as most of it is recorded straight onto the camera as it is shot al(though the reliability of it will improve with time and future films). In this story, Marshall wants to do away with ex-high school friend and partner, and now rival dealer, the heroin addicted Johnny (Bailey, already sporting his trademark knee-length short pants). The film, which is in mostly black and white, is short, and yet covers some nice ground as bullets fly and vapes are vaped. The pace is a bit meandering at times, yet there is still quite a bit of action in this short amount of footage. It’s a bit on the rough side, as it is most first films, but it’s also easy to see the kernel of what is to come. I am certainly enjoying watching the progression of a style that Bailey has since made great use of over the past couple of years.

Satan’s Coming for You
19:37 minutes, 2015
The longest film on this set, it appears to be a collection of outtakes and additional footage from one of Bailey’s other films, My Master Satan. Then again, in a chicken and egg paradigm, perhaps this was filmed first, and it was used to make up one of the three stories from Master. Again, in black and white with some color, especially during an acid trip, this is a loose yet somewhat coherent story about the revenge for Bubba (again Matt Marshall) and Alister (Bailey) against the person who was having the affair with Bubba’s since-deceased wife. With body exhuming from a cemetery and a bit of blowtorch behavior, Bubba and Alister go on said acid trip and meet up with Satan. From there on in it’s the two friends working through the kinks of getting away with literal murder.

I Spread Hate Like Herpes
2:12 minutes, 2015
This is a short-yet-not-sweet uncompleted fictionalized documentary starring “BK” (Brian Knapp). In its two scenes, BK discusses his own psychopathic behavior (while driving of coruse, since this is a Dakota Bailey film, and it’s a given someone will do that). There is no direction, no point, just a camera pointed at BK as he riffs. What I’m not sure of and wonder about is whether this is going to be part of a whole film on this character, if the footage is going to be included into a future Bailey feature, or was this just some goofing around that was too good not to do something with it. Too short to be boring and just long enough for head scratching, it makes a nice coda to the rest of the shorts.  

Trailer for one short is HERE.

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