Sucks To Be You
Writer Christopher Cheeseman directs and produces this Canadian independent gem, Mind Leech. A story of a little area (filmed in my backyard), that is infected with a mind-controlling/ sucking leech making its hosts kill. And not just any kills, we have axe murders to the guts, knives to the forehead, axe to the forehead, oh yeah it’s axe mayhem.
Christopher Cheeseman’s special effects talents from previous movies include; Fatman, Jigsaw, and Awake bringing his expertise to this small project with loads of potential.
As an independent flick with a sparse crew, Mind Leech looks to be a solid effort with a minimal budget. It is the budget that restrains this film from really getting out of hand, but the crew rises to the occasion in terms of practical effects, sound, and editing.
With most horror movies of the creature sub-genre the effects often take center stage in our criticisms, so this seems like a great place to start. With the absence of CGI or animation, the crew for Mind Leech is left with basic prosthetics and puppetry. This is expertly done, as seen in Lloyd getting an axe to the face. As he lies there bleeding out the camera zooms close enough in to see the details makeup artists Daniel Baker and Chris Cooper employ for this death scene, audiences have to respect this effort. The leech itself looks like a traditional puppet-controlled off-camera but is seen enough to make the prop believable enough. And we have an exploding ice hut, the pyrotechnics employed here most likely ate up a significant portion of the budget.
The sound, music, and foley are really well done. Surprisingly so. Traditionally with a film of this caliber, there is nothing left for this post-production activities, yet Mind Leech ensures we hear every step through the snow as our two hero sheriffs TJ Johnson and Benjamin Pailey (played by Steph Ivory Conover and Mischa O’Hoski respectively), encircle the barn where Craig (the host of the leech) is hiding, or running through the woods on the effort to return to leech to the main water supply. The incidental music performed by Zac Hanna and the Leechtones is well-placed and offers the right amount of tension for each scene it is placed. I mention the right tension, as it would be easy here to overdo the tension that the lack of overall plot structure does not require.
The plot and character development within Mind Leech are pretty much exactly what you should expect from the trailer of this flick. The acting is sub-par but still effective. I am sure the director (Cheeseman) would have loved to do multiple takes to get the best performance but settled for quick editing in its stead. I feel the plot was missing a major arch that left audiences feeling underwhelmed. If Mind Leech was able to have a longer runtime (total of only one hour), then this team may have been able to explore more zaniness and adventures of the leech to give the viewer more bang from their $6 CDN rental fee. Of course, (sorry if this comes off as a spoiler), Mind Leech expertly sets itself up for a sequel. Hey Christopher Cheeseman, I may have mentioned this was filmed in my backyard, need help with the sequel?? Yes, a sequel would allow this team of film writers to explore some of the concepts and themes in more detail, and give viewers a new monster to cheer, laugh at, and be repulsed at. Please, if you are a fan of indie horror, and monster movies, you should check out Mind Leech as soon as possible.
Rating 7/10 for:
- Great use of minimal practical effects, even the drowning scene was expertly shot and edited.
- The editing, of every shot, allowed the characters maximum screen time to develop their character and allowed for the snowy backdrop to be truly appreciated. However, was the super-long awkward unlocking of the handcuffs really necessary?
- The acting was great for the minimal cast and simple story.
- The feel. This is a movie that has been inspired by many classic horror films involving parasites, monsters, aliens, etc. The translation to screen for this film shows the dedication the small crew has to the craft and to this particular sub-genre of horror.
- At $6 rental, well worth every penny if you are a fan of campy, independent filmmaking and the possibilities achieved by small crews.
- Christopher Cheeseman’s cameo role with the tagline “Put A Slug In It”.
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