by Hope Madden
What opens as a slyly comic take on a familiar horror scene turns – with a blinding light and the sound of a garage door – into something more silly and broadly funny. Born Again, Hands Off Productions’ 6 ½ minute visit with the “worst Satanists ever,” wastes no time and packs a comedic wallop.
Written by director Jason Tostevin and co-star Randall Greenland, the film’s success relies on a clever turn. Most of the pair’s collaborations, including 2015’s impressive (and award-bedecked) gangster short A Way Out, benefit from a similar subversion of expectations. But Born Again takes the team back to horror, and the sensibility here is much more enjoyably goofy.
Regular Tostevin collaborator, cinematographer Mike McNeese, lenses an impressive effort. The two handle the shift in tone beautifully, opening with sumptuous colors and tight close ups, then pivoting to a visual style that feels in on the joke.
Production values throughout impress, while performances – though brief – are strong. Tiffany Arnold, whose work relies almost entirely on facial expressions, is a riot, but the scene stealer is Greenland.
With sharp timing and a panda mask, Greenland perfectly represents Born Again: it’s so wrong, yet endearingly hilarious.