★★★★★ Directed by: Fred Cavender Written by: Fred Cavender Starring: Louis Hill, Mark Chapman, Kaitlyn McGill, Bess Davies, Albert Cavender, Lloyd Lewis, Louis Cavender Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
In the world of film journalism you cannot say the word music mockumentary without the words This Is Spinal Tap in the same sentence. It's a golden rule. And anyone who has seen, and loved, Spinal Tap will immediately see the influence on this short film from filmmaker Fred Cavender titled California Hotdog Champions. However, what most viewers will not have seen, is this blend of rockumentary with horror, or horrockumentary...stay with me here.
The movie follows the antics of a band called, well their name differs depending on which member you ask, but one of those names is California Hotdog Champions (which is glorious if you ask me). Using the fake documentary (mockumentary) style, Cavender presents a band made up of quirky and foolish characters (Louis Hill, Mark Chapman, Lloyd Lewis), a clumsy filmmaker obsessed with B-Roll (Albert Cavender), a foul-mouthed manager (Bess Davies), and an endlessly enthusiastic groupie (Kaitlyn McGill). Oh and new member Gav (Louis Cavender), whose initial friendliness and eager attitude may be cloaking something far more sinister.
There is oodles to enjoy in this short film. From the wonderfully eclectic characters and clever dialogue, to the stylish cinematography and effective horror. The quick editing keeps a jaunty pace and the use of focus and zoom in the framing of the performers is a lovely touch to keep things off-kilter. This is an example of not dropping the ball once filmmaking.
Fans of the aforementioned Tap will be in their element and so will disciples of a filmmaker like Edgar Wright and his Cornetto Trilogy. The blend of horror and comedy being in complete, ahem, harmony. Whilst there is no “Our amps go to 11” moment, Cavender does string together a number of big guffaws, such as Mark Chapman opening the toilet door to a gruesome scene (twice), or Bess Davies being on utterly top form keeping her effing language clean.
There are also some brilliant visuals during California Hotdog Champions. A low angle camera shot of some bloody violence was particularly disturbing and I really enjoyed seeing Chapman hide on the floor of the pub in the dark trying to charge his phone. Tres magnifique.
You can watch the entire short film for free below, another addition to the UK Film Channel...