South Mill District (2018) Short Film Review

South Mill District takes place on earth after an alien war has pretty much destroyed humanity. The people that are left are remnants of Eon Corporation’s experiments, a company that created a disease called the Havoc Strain that turns humans into hosts for a deadly, mutated spider virus. Joe Meredith and his absolutely stunning wife, Cidney Meredith, star in the film and give some great performances. 

South Mill District uses its low budget as an advantage by shooting at some great real life shambling locations. I love how indie filmmakers over come boundaries and issues in this fashion. It’s impressive and inspiring. We get a number of dilapidated warehouses and structural ruins which lend that extra touch to the quality of the finished product. Meredith also relies on scenery from his local town to bring out that post-apocalyptic feel.

The stop motion animation used in South Mill District is very cool and to see it being used in 2018 is a welcome addition. We get spiders feasting on their human hosts, severed heads and the coolest alien creatures, displays of some great movements that are still better than any CGI, in my humble opinion. Gone are the days of this craft and to see it resurface in South Mill District is a breath of fresh air.

The visuals in South Mill District are also on point. We get all sorts of different vibrant color schemes and backdrops, which once again adds that extra layer of intrigue and technical merit. The gore comes in all sorts of thick and gooey goodness, with blood and alien puking plus some cranial carnage with a circular saw. It’s great messy fun and very well done.

There is not much dialogue between characters, but the narration by Meredith is impressive and effectively weaves the tale for the viewer. Toby Johansen also does a convincing job as Eon Corp’s Dr. Bottin in a segment where he explains the structure of the Havoc Strain. I’m putting it out there that Dr. Bottin could be a nod to Rob Bottin, who did the amazing effects on John Carpenter’s The Thing.

For Joe Meredith, South Mill District has obviously been a labor of love. He practically created the entire movie himself from the music to cinematography and effects on, with help from his wife, Cidney, Toby Johansen and some amazing looking effects pieces from indie filmmaking great James Bell. I’ve seen most of Bell’s work and can tell his signature style. With some great editing from Ronnie Sortor (Phil Stevens’ Flowers), a man who has made some balls out awesome indie features himself in the 90’s such as Sinistre), you can’t help but sit back, relax, smile and take in all of the perfection here.

The final cut of South Mill District has been completed with a DVD release announced for February. This short, running in at just over 25 minutes, boasts crisp and clean camera work. The music score provides this absolutely eerie atmosphere and gives the viewer that extra element to make for an indie diamond in the rough. Joe Meredith has created his first feature short and it has been well worth the wait.

Meredith has packed so much good stuff in 25 minutes that it makes me thirst for more of his post-apocalyptic alien vision. The big studios should be taking notes on how to properly make an alien film here. South Mill District proves that budget restraints can never outdo raw talent, ingenuity and creativity. The film sits firmly on my list of top indie films of 2018. Welcome to South Mill District, home of the Havoc Strain. Please be patient. Your assimilation will begin shortly.

About Richard Taylor

Avid gore/horror/underground/brutal death metal/comic fiend. Got into the good stuff in the nineties by tape trading the likes of Violent Shit, Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Apocalypse, The Beyond, Guinea Pig series, Men Behind The Sun etc. Have written for a bunch of sites some now defunct and some still going such as Violent Maniacs Cage, ZFE Films With Attitude, Mortado's Pages Of Filth, Severed Cinema, Goregasmic Cinema, Extreme Horror Cinema and Twisted Minds.

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