By Andrew Buckner
Rating: ***** out of *****.
“Slimebuck”, masterfully directed by Tom DeNucci (2013’s Army of the Damned, 2015’s Almost Mercy) and ingeniously written by K.C. Cerilli, is a wonderfully playful and charming masterpiece. The twenty minute short film, from Morbidly Amusing Productions and The Woodhaven Production Company, is proudly inspired. There are echoes of Joe Dante’s Gremlins (1984) and Stephen Spielberg’s ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) resounding with a wink at the audience throughout this 2015 release. Even the rotund appearance of the title creature itself seems as if it could be a distant cousin of the Venus flytrap, Audrey II, in the unusually excellent 1986 musical remake of Roger Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors. Yet, it owes just as much to later Hollywood blockbusters of a completely different categorical ilk. Most discernibly, Christopher Columbus’ comedic Home Alone (1990). This is most clearly visible in the attention-garnering and well-done final act.
To add to the variety at hand, there are also elements of the mad scientist account woven into the proceedings. This comes into play with the entertainingly eccentric, Mike. Joe Siriani gives a fantastic, endlessly watchable portrayal as this individual. The individual is obviously carved with a deep felt passion for the previously addressed sub-genre. Siriani’s show-stopping, charmingly unhinged presentation is a delight to watch. It also makes the aforesaid characteristics and esteem all the more engagingly present. We see it in Siriani’s grandiose mannerisms. Such is also expressed in the way DeNucci frames the segments Siriani is involved in. This is largely noteworthy in the first half of the article. An attractively staged and smirk-inducing segment at four minutes into the affair is where this most evident. It showcases Mike in his laboratory, with test tubes and other trademark equipment of the filmic obsessive genius encompassing him, as he frantically labors. Such is an expertly conducted homage. All of this is given further incredible punctuation by Brad Piche’s quirky, endlessly fitting music. This aspect parallels the atmosphere of the construction beautifully. In turn, it enriches the jovial nature of the work immeasurably. Yet, despite the many peers the story summons, it finds a way to not rely on them. “Slimebuck” is clearly and refreshingly its own entity.
The intriguing concept behind this endeavor concerns Mike’s increasing interest in a meteor. Fascinated by the unique component within it, he brings the piece home. Soon after, he is reminded of an awards ceremony that he has forgotten that he must attend. For this event he will join his wife, Connie (Tess Degen in an outstanding depiction). Mike rushes to prepare for the occasion. As he leaves his residence with Connie in tow, he never realizes he left the irreplaceable item behind. All the while, their son, Tad (Jonah Coppelelli in a grand representation), has a sleepover at his house with his friend, Edgar (Jack Brunault, whose inaugural representation is excellent). Later that night, after a long session of Xbox, Tad wakes up to find the harmless, and immediately lovable, title creature in his room. This instant suggests, in part, the power of the imagination as Tad is seen drawing the harmless extraterrestrial a minute into the effort. Soon a band of bumbling robbers, Vladimir and Ivan (Fred Sullivan and Nick Principe; both in splendidly honed turns) attempt to steal the cosmic pillar Mike left behind. From this point forward, Slimebuck teams up with the children to foil the duo’s nefarious plans.
DeNucci finds an innocent, merry and inoffensive approach to the composition. It is one which is undeniably suitable for the material. Neither is it too juvenile to put off adult patrons, nor to terrifying to scare away younger viewers. This is established mesmerizingly in the first shot. From herein, it radiates admirably through the duration.
Both Cerilli, whose characterizations and dialogue are terrifically penned, and DeNucci offer exceptional influence to the quality of the material. The pace the duo conjure is even and the humorous moments are well-timed. It makes the undertaking all the more immersive. Moreover, the end outcome is all the easier to adore.
Furthermore, Maura McCarthy’s costumes are spectacular. The editing by Robbie Savage Jr. and Andrew Migliori is stupendously issued. Michael Zuccola is delightful as the pizza boy, Rickey. Billy ‘V’ Vigeant fares just as well as the limo driver. Additionally, Joe Cantor and Bobby “Boom” Brierly’s sound contribution is outstanding. Marissa Giammarco does a magnificent job with the hair and make-up. Puppeteer Erminio Pinque and special effects contributor Ben Bornstein cleverly bring Slimebuck to life. The result is a marvelously engaging and technically proficient opus.
“Slimebuck”, though brief, is every bit as well-etched and satisfying as a full-length feature. This is especially evident in how incredibly well the narrative is fleshed out. DeNucci and Cerilli have found a skillful manner to develop the personalities we encounter. They also provide a well-rounded and in-depth product. It is one which tells its fiction as completely as a lengthier enterprise. When considering this is done in about 1/6 of the space, such is all the more astonishing. This is another of many details mechanizing together to make this an absolute must. Such is particularly true of those of us who like to indulge the child within us now and again.
A sad tale lies behind this ultimately optimistic and laughter fueled tour de force. Thirty-year-old Cerilli, an avid genre devotee, wrote the script before passing away to muscular dystrophy in 2014. His parents, Vin and Annette, made it their mission to make sure his vision got to the screen. Though there is an abounding joy to everything we encounter in the piece itself, such adds an air of mourning to this warm, endearing and poignant exhibition of moving art.