In Michael Bonomo’s short film, Assassins (nothing to do with the musical or the Sly Stallone film, thankfully), we see the slow unfolding of a single hit. Our unnamed assassin (upcoming genre actor Bill Oberst Jr.) enters an apartment, sits, and waits for his prey to come to him. Once the mark makes himself known, he’s subjected to the cold, peculiar shakedown of our killer.
Assassins has some style to it. We get some nice, claustrophobic hallway shots, and Oberst’s grizzled mug alone can fill the frame with anxiety. But Bonomo is currently raising funds to turn this short into a full-length feature, and before he does so, it would really help to throw out the clichés on display here. Oberst’s stoic performance is solid, but in order to truly be interesting, he needs something better than generic tough-guy monologues and overheated metaphors about fucking. In general, the short runs slightly too close to The Boondock Saints method of filmmaking (minus the humor): as long as someone says something cool and shoots someone in the head, audiences will be sold. Unfortunately, it feels pretty rote, and Bonomo needs to back more of the film with the tone he achieves in those horrific hallway shots. And make sure the other performances are at least up to Oberst’s level.
That’s not to say Assassins is a lost cause. There’s nothing better for new filmmakers to cut their teeth on than stories of crime and violence. Even if the sights and sounds don’t entirely work, the content alone will get the audience halfway there. But Assassins has some major overhauls ahead of it if it hopes to stick out in a genre that has (literally) beaten these tropes to death.
Josh has studied film at the Universities of Missouri and Florida, and he is currently studying horror film and popular culture in the Communication and Culture program at Indiana University. He has previously worked with the True/False Documentary Film Festival and the Ragtag Theatre in Columbia, Missouri, and he served as short-term production assistant on This Film Is Not Yet Rated. He is currently working on a dissertation on independent horror, horror film festivals, and horror fandom; feel free to contact him to discuss any of the above! He is also studying Dark Carnival Film Festival (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com).