REVIEW BY JEREMIAH ROSARIO
Parlour Tricks follows a family who summon an unexpected guest during an unusual seance.
Its refreshing to see artists step out of their comfort zones, push forward, and venture off into new endeavors within the film creation process. If you're someone that keeps up with the independent (and I mean, real independent) horror scene, then you should be familiar with Tristan Risk's body of work - mainly as a performer in front of the camera. With the upcoming release of Parlour Tricks (into film festivals for now), "Little Miss Risk" steps behind them, and delivers something that's very much an embodiment of her own sensibilities. That is to say, a short film that's playful, quirky, and dark.
Right off the bat, the aesthetic recalls older classic gothic-styled sitcoms. I'm reminded of the warm memories that come with my viewings of The Munsters, and The Addams Family. The evening host is certainly an homage to horror's tall, dark, and silent servant, Lurch - with the rest of the participating cast coming across as classic throwbacks to the contemporary Tully family (from the 1991 Addams Family film). Performances are suitably exaggerated and delivered with tongues firmly in cheek. The score hums ominously in the background, lending an appropriately ethereal feel to the in-film activities, while sound effects lean a bit "cartoon" - the audio presentation wouldn't feel completely out of place in a Scooby Doo episode.
The story is fairly straight forward and works as a setup to deliver some funny gags, both from an audio perspective and visual one. No spoilers here, but the ending of the film goes full tilt ridiculous and punctuates the events with a rather hilarious - and wholly unexpected - punchline. Parlour Tricks is short, but complete. Given most films of this length feel more like trailers for longer releases, it was nice to see a narrative that features a proper beginning, middle, and end.
Be sure to catch Risk's debut film for yourself during its upcoming festival circuit run. Keep an eye out on the official page for dates and locations.