“I was attacked by a cougar once. Her name was Janice.”
It plays out exactly how you know it will, but it’s no less funny as a result. Sid Zanforlin‘s (co-written by Chris Bavota) short film Never Tear Us Apart has everything you’d want from a horror with naïve wanderers, cannibalistic hicks, dismemberment, and a healthy dose of blood. But don’t discredit its humor either, a tone introduced directly after watching the screams of an unnamed victim (Mark Anthony Krupa) tied to chair bleeding. James (Matt Keyes) and Colin (Alex Weiner) are just innocent enough to endear themselves with sarcastic humor and observational wit—a pair of Little Red Riding Hoods blissfully ignorant towards the dangers that lie ahead.
The filmmakers have a great handle on the tone with a brief glimpse through the window of Sherman (James Rae) and Eileen’s (Leigh Ann Taylor) house having a storybook feel despite our knowing where the meat she serves comes from. Seeing the hokey grin on James’ face is a delight, the tragic shift into terror upon reality setting in the catalyst for an all-out malicious chase through the forest. The whole endeavor is obviously low-budget—using lines like “It’s so real, man” to treat the broken down façade of the shed visited as ironic and comical—while still possessing some stellar special effects. Limbs and meat look real, the jump-scare bisecting of a human head seamless in its orchestration.
There are just enough earmarks to the genre to render the work a worthy addition; it’s subversion of fear for intentional laughter a steadfast evolution since Shaun of the Dead. The transitions from horror to comedy are abrupt and hilarious because they are. Zanforlin keeps us guessing about how things will happen rather than what will. We know James can’t continue looking through the window at Eileen chopping up dinner without being noticed. And we know the cannibals will erupt in excitement at the prospect of two new items for their freezer. Will those actions come with fright or giggles or both? For the most part it’s the latter in a perfect blend making the 7-minute piece pure satisfaction.