Film Review: 40 Years


Russell Appleford’s short film 40 Years is a dreamy study of one man’s guilt consuming him.  The film begins with a man and his memories trapped in a hotel room where hints of lost sanity point to a tragedy that happened many years ago (it’s probably safe to assume 40).  We quickly learn that the character’s name is David (Michael Sheldon), and that when they were both children, his brother died in front of him.  The film blends our hero’s current search for redemption with flashbacks of the sequence of events leading up to his brother’s death.

There is not an over-abundance of dialogue, which I think lends to the chilling atmosphere.  Appleford makes his point without becoming preachy, and the film seems to ultimately be about confronting one’s past demons in order to defeat them.

Speaking of demons, there are some truly impressive CGI effects used in this film, and the rock-creature that initially seems to have been responsible for David’s death is an original and effective monster in its own right.  The action sequences with the creature are well-executed and elicit an eyebrow raise – or two.

The film’s website indicates that the film was initially shot using Super 16 film, which certainly lends to its gorgeous filmic appearance.  After that, it was converted to HD and the visual effects were added.  To watch the film for yourself visit the website ( where it is available for anyone to view.  It is well worth the 14 minutes, I assure you.  If you’re more interested in how the awesome rock creature was created, be sure and check out the “VFX” tab on the website for some really neat motion capture and time lapse videos on that topic.

Another technical achievement I would like to briefly discuss is the sound design – everything from the distant telephone call to the rock creature’s attack is beautiful and clean and sounds as though it was built completely from the floor up.  Working on this very thing on some of my own recent projects, it strikes me even more than it normally would how well put together and professional it really was in this film.

Overall, the film features top-notch cinematography, it is well-acted (including the children actors!), has winning CGI effects, and it certainly has atmosphere.  The film festival circuit certainly seems to recognize this, as 40 Years has been an official selection of 32 film festivals, including Dark Carnival.  In addition, the film won Best Cinematography and Best Sound Design at The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Best Short Film at Los Angeles United Film Festival.  So take a page out of a critic’s book, please check it out, and be sure to leave comments about the film!



Rating: 4.25/5 ★★★★¼ 


About Leya_T

Leya Taylor studied Cinema and Literature at Indiana University, is an accomplished filmmaker, and the founder of Coppercoil Productions. She has worn many hats, including Producer, Director, Director of Photography, Assistant Director, Special Effects Technician, Production Designer, and has been known to don a raspberry beret. Leya is currently a freelance videographer and editor, and is one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (

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