Today I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Tim Buel’s short horror films are readily available on YouTube. Three of the Californian filmmaker’s shorts have been uploaded so far: Unaired (2009), On That Day (2010) and Outcast (2011). Every one of those is well worth checking out, especially if you’re a genre fan like yours truly.
Unaired (2009) is Tim’s spin on the found footage sub-genre. It revolves around a television crew, shooting a reality show on paranormal phenomena. Much like in Grave Encounters (2011), the troupe ends up being stuck in a real haunted house, unlike that movie (that came out 2 years later) this one shows you less, and that’s why it’s more successful. It’s also half the runtime and overall feels more fresh and fun. The filmmaker realizes the faux documentary angle is a gimmick and understands its limitations, but manages to respect the “rules” the format imposes and doesn’t sway from it.
I watched this one last (I started with On That Day and then went on to Outcast), but I would have to say this is my favorite of his. As a huge fan of the found footage/paranormal sub-genre I’ve seen a lot of formulaic and poorly executed films, but this one is actually quite intense and gripping. It really sucks you in and doesn’t let you go until it’s done, and that’s what you want from a good genre picture. If you know anything about sound design there’s also something for you to appreciate on that level.
On That Day (2010) is Buel’s vision of the classic zombie apocalypse, set in the suburbs. Unlike most zombie flicks in this one the characters are ready for it and seem to be excited about the idea of killing the undead. What sticks out in On That Day is the kickass soundtrack/score, composed by Tim himself. Again, although we’ve seen zombie films a hundred times, this one is definitely done with a lot of feeling, for what works and what doesn’t. Being a sucker for everything with a suburban setting of course I was going to enjoy this one. Clocking in at less than four minutes this is his shortest short.
Changing sub-genre once more with Outcast (2011) Tim does a vampire film. In his own words this is: “A short film about a normal young man who is turned against his will into a creature of the night. He must now live the life he didn’t ask for as an Outcast”. Personally I think that the vampire sub-genre is the trickiest one to succeed in, because of its complexity. This one managed to keep my interest because of the romantic subplot, which was handled and balanced very well with the horror elements in the film. The Trent Reznor-esque score and excellent sound design help enhance the experience, while creating a very specific mood and atmosphere. Being his newest available film I also noticed an improvement in the visual department.
All in all Tim Buel’s films are fun and refreshing takes on old and dusty horror tropes. His shorts distinguish themselves for their tone and atmosphere, but also their heart and genuine love for the genre while combining his passion for music. Besides being multi-talented he also seems like a very likable guy, which translates into his scripts and films in that you like spending time in the worlds he creates. His cameos are always fun to spot and prove that he has a sense of humor. He also seems to have a lot of fun doing these movies with his friends and family, which is always the key ingredient in crafting a successful film, or any piece of art.
Tim Buel is also the co-host of The Golden Briefcase podcast on FirstShowing.net with fellow filmmaker Jeremy K. Kirk. Every week Tim and Jeremy are joined by a guest that is as knowledgeable and charming, to talk new releases, trailers and topics related to the films hitting theaters on the respective weekend. Tune in for great recommendations and get to know their guests, through funny and insightful discussions.