Directed & Written by #WardWells
Of all the many things unfortunately hampered by lockdown, creativity hasn’t been one of them. Look no further for a perfect example than the “first and hopefully last” Roger Corman Quarantine Film Festival. The legendary producer, dubbed the “master of cult cinema” by Sight and Sound, has generously and ingeniously invited would-be-directors to submit their own two-minute short film. The challenge? The film must be set within the candidate’s home, filmed only with their phone and lit by the available lighting around their home.
Killow is Ward Wells’ shot at following in the footsteps of the likes of James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, all prodigies of the 94 year-old Corman. This horror-comedy (of course, a favourite genre of Corman himself) sees a young man (Wells) check into a room, only to inexplicably come under attack from a murderous pillow. There is no dialogue. The only vocal expressions come from Wells’ battle with his fluffy assailant.
Whether it features high in the competition or not, Wells’ concept, cheeky title and playful fun may at least raise a smile from Corman and his team. As far as Corman’s challenge goes, Killow ticks all the boxes. The film, presumably, has been shot at Wells’ home, with a phone and only natural daylight is used for illumination. Running for 1 minute and 55 seconds, it doesn’t get anymore tighter, and economical, then this. Well done, Ward!
Title aside, there’s some other in-jokes, like the hotel keyring saying “Sweet Dreams” before the mayhem begins. When Wells’ pillow slowly rises upright on the bed next to him, horror buffs may be reminded of Count Orlok erecting from his coffin in Nosferatu (1922) or Michael Myers rising up for another tussle with Laurie in Halloween (1978). When the “Killow” refuses to lie down and die, there’s also the memory of the relentless Annie in Misery (1990). Finally, when Wells’ eventually dispatches his enemy by locking him up in a suitcase, this viewer was reminded of the villainous Nik-Nak’s comeuppance in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974). More than likely, these allusions were probably the last thing on Wells’ mind. But, they’re fun to make anyway.
Whilst it’s unlikely to make a splash in the world of short film, Killow actually turns out to be an apt send-up of Corman’s cult classic B-movies. Who knows? It might even catch the eye of the “Pope of Pop Cinema” after all?