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Apple Cinema (2021) Short Film Review


Directed by: #ConorHolway

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After a meteor strikes Boston, a virus infection spreads and two acquaintances are forced to hide inside a movie theatre: Apple Cinema.

A movie made in Boston, for Boston, the film runs for just over forty two minutes (excluding closing credits) and had its theatrical premiere on September 10. This quirky horror/thriller gives its central location a nice shining spotlight, even if it is restricted to one building, allowing for small scale character driven drama to take centre stage.

The film begins with an intriguing cold open establishing two acquaintances, Coach (Holway) and South (Perrington-Turner), who are on bad terms and are sitting in a deserted cinema screening. Through unconventional narrative structure, comprising of flashbacks and flashforwards to the present day, we are shown the events leading up to the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse from the cast’s point of view. We later learn that the survivors have been living in the cinema for three years and there are unresolved tensions between them as South blames Coach for the death of his brother.

Apple Cinema (2021) film poster

Director Holway employs a great blend of comedic moments with mystery and thriller, depicting how Coach appears to be losing his grip on sanity as he constantly works out and speaks to a cardboard cut-out of Marvel star Chris Evans, recording each day passing by drawing a line on the wall. The film is well crafted with creative and immersive techniques used, such as quick zooms into characters’ eyes as we transition to a flashback in the midst of the zombie attack. It presents a creepy unnatural visual aesthetic, with orange dust clouds as a result of the meteor strike causing visibility outside to be greatly reduced. There is an impressive sequence earlier on showcasing the meteor crashing, where a tsunami is caused by the force and people and buildings are instantly incinerated. The special effects are very strong and captures the nightmarish imagery of an apocalyptic horror flick very well.

Performances are good all around, with a particular standout being Drew Dunn as creepy cinema attendant Xander. He appears to have suffered a mental infliction as a result of witnessing the virus outbreak and acts oddly, speaking like a robot programmed to promote the cinema in an exaggerated fashion and constantly applying Vaseline to his hands. His persona is slightly reminiscent of the bar attendant, Lloyd (Joe Turkel), from The Shining (1980) and the disturbing setting of a dark, mostly abandoned cinema only enhances this unsettling tone.

The film presents an effective twist ending, where everything we were previously shown about the characters is instantly flipped on its head, although motivations for one character’s actions do appear unclear and questionable. We are finally treated to a tongue in cheek closing credits sequence, with a cracking performance from Robert Bloodworth as he sings an uplifting song called ‘Stirring Drums’, juxtaposing the darkness that came before.

All in all, Apple Cinema showcases interesting and experimental moviemaking, a compelling narrative and a mysterious cast of characters cast of mysterious characters. Self-aware and talented director Conor Holway offers a decent watch for this Halloween with its easy accessibility through YouTube.


Apple Cinema (2021) trailer:


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