The problem with a lot of independent/underground production companies these days is that it feels like many of them cater to the same audiences. Just throw in some cheap gore, some nudity and some really bad jokes and music, and you can call it a day. That's not the case with Wicked Pixel. While I'm not a fan of theirs (the one film from them I have seen, "Ice From the Sun", ended up feeling too much like a student film trying to shock audiences), I do admire the fact that they aren't doing movies to cater to audience expectations. They are doing what they want to do, such as the anthology "The Severed Heads Network."
Actually, it's not really an anthology. It's actually a collection of short films from the guys. So, how do they measure up? Well, let's rate and review!
First, it's "Vomire" by Chad Eivans. This is an odd, experimental and plotless venture featuring blasphemy, odd images and footage from slaughter houses. This is probably the weakest of the films, as it's just too pretentious and obnoxious to enjoy, not to mention tedious in a "look how edgy I am" way. 1/10
Next on the table is "Faith in Nothing" by Eric Stanze. This is actually a music video for a group called Analogue Satellite. It's essentially a girl in various stages of undress and some creative camera work. Not terrible, but not great either. 5/10
Tommy Biondo's "Satisfaction" is a hard to watch film due to it's use of hardcore sex and rape. That out of the way, the acting is pretty good and the climax is memorable. It just didn't win me over. 5.5/10
Time for another music video. This time it's the Tom Tevlin directed "Unwanted" for the band Purple Screwdriver. I just couldn't get into it-the direction is fine, the the whole "Man chased by his inner demons" thing just seemed lame. 3.5/10
Jason Christ's (nice name) 5 minute short "Victim" has a predictable conclusion, but it's the first good short in the collection, as it's a neat twist on the old "kids stalked by a killer" scenerio. 7/10
Sedgewick" by Steven M. Lashly is the best film in the collection. Dealing with a man suffering from dementia in a grocery store. it's a creepy, unsettling little ditty that get's under your skin thanks to it's assured direction and ability to capture a nightmarish atmosphere, with a little black humor to help out. 8/10
Aaron Crozier gives us something different with "Liontown", an unusual black comedy/musical about a group of animals who end up getting eaten by lions, hence the title. It's a bit too goofy at times, but it's a nice change in pace that got a few chuckles out of me. 7.5/10
Lastly it's another music video. This time it's "Curveball: A Pile of Junk" directed by Jason Christ. There's some nice images here, but like"Unwanted", I ended up wondering what the point of it was. 3.5/10
As a whole, there are things to like about "The Severed Heads Network," and as I said, it's refreshing to see this kind of ambition and originality in underground horror. The problem though, is that it ends up feeling too ambitious for it's own good, at times aiming too much to be weird for the sake of weirdness , not to mention pretentious. Which is a shame, as I really wanted to like this a little more. It's just that it ended up letting me down quite a bit.
Not all hope is lost, as films #5-#7 make for fine viewing. Just skip the other titles, and you'll probably enjoy it. As a whole however-it doesn't gel.