Updated: Sep 2, 2020
Directed by: #ZayRodriguez
Written by: #ZayRodriguez
Saturday the 14th is the third short directed by Zay Rodriguez, who also wrote the film. With its title clearly playing off of arguably the most famous slasher franchise of the eighties (you know which one), the film is a parody of sorts that puts a comedic spin on tired horror tropes. While it takes a while to get going, the short proves to be an entertaining romp thanks to some enthusiastic performances and well-executed comedy.
We follow Brenda (Pamela Ines) and Benji (Joseph-Febles), who, as a result of a minor car accident, find themselves under threat from the unstable Tabatha (Yasiris Alvarado). The pair attempt to avoid the consequences of the incident, but in doing so, drag themselves and their friends into a far deadlier situation.
Saturday the 14th is filled with memorable characters that each have unique qualities. Benji is a bit of scaredy-cat, Paris M. Woods’ Vivica a flamboyant and flippant figure, and Tabatha a crazed individual who has more in common with a Looney Tunes cartoon. While none of these characters is developed in any meaningful way, they remain consistently entertaining thanks to the energetic performances behind them. Woods, in particular, is a charismatic figure who manages to provide a lot of laughs through blunt line delivery.
The film is well shot with Rodriguez taking advantage of framing that, traditionally, would be found in slasher movies. However, the director warps this approach for the film’s comedic tone, with many instances of characters being snuck up on coming across as more humorous than suspenseful. Playing with and reversing such tropes is refreshing and sees the film pay homage to its inspiration while remaining its own thing.
While technically sound, the film does have a couple of continuity errors that take you out of the experience. One instance of a character’s entire wardrobe seemingly changing in an instant and a night-time sequence that has clear daylight pouring through the windows do detract from the immersion. However, these are minor issues in an otherwise competently made short.
The film benefits from having a stripped-down narrative that is very focussed. As a result, the short moves along at a brisk pace, with each scene, barring one deviation, serving to move the plot forward. Despite this straightforward story though, Saturday the 14th still takes a while to get going, as the first fifteen minutes are all but set up for the extended finale. None of this build-up is particularly interesting yet still takes up over half of the runtime.
Fortunately, what the film lacks in its opening chunk is more than made up for when we reach the chaotic ending. It is in the finale that the short fully embraces its goofiness to deliver a sequence of events that, while predictable and somewhat non-sensical, remains thoroughly entertaining. With the exception of one notably jarring fourth wall break and a couple of moments in which the camera doesn’t feel as skilfully helmed, Saturday the 14th ends on a high.
With Saturday the 14th, Zay Rodriguez and his crew deliver an effective and light-hearted horror-comedy. Animated performances from all involved help to elevate the comedic material, while clever camerawork pays homage to staple horror tropes without engaging with them directly. If you’re looking for a fun short that does exactly what it says on the tin, Saturday the 14th is the one.