Opening scenes are crucial to any film hoping to capture the audience’s attention. It sets the tone for what’s to come and what can be expected. Stalking Miss Barlow, a 24-minute short comedic horror, does exactly this as a busty female flees from a machete-wielding killer through the woods. With horrible overdramatic camera angles, over the top acting and an abundance of B-movie gore, I thought I was in for a low-budget train wreck full of boobs and blood with no story. I was relieved when a director yells “cut!” less than two minutes in and the actress voices her complaints by saying “this isn’t even horror. It’s just boobs and blood. No story!”
Fortunately, there is a story. Derek Huey, the producer of the 2013 feature Conjoined and cinematographer for 2017’s Party Night, directs this meta-film in which Conjoined actually exists and Keefer Barlow, star of the previously mentioned title, plays a fictional character of herself. The story takes place after Conjoined has been released to the public, which has caught the attention of some creepy fans. Miss Barlow a burnt out B-movie scream queen, is trying to survive the slow moving production of her next feature film. Between shooting scenes in undesirable locations for a high maintenance actress, a film crew that takes countless smoke breaks and being approached by a couple creepy fans, frustration reaches an all-time high for Barlow. However, when a mysterious individual appears concealing his identity with biker attire and a helmet, crew members begin to disappear. It isn’t long before Barlow’s filmmaking survival becomes much more of a literal reality.
Obviously, meta-films are nothing new. Mainstream has taken this approach with features such as Scream 3 and Cabin in the Woods. The indie world has seen this done with ThanksKilling 3. However, this is not what makes Stalking Miss Barlow an enjoyable low-budget short. What drives this film is how it refuses to take itself too seriously while giving the audience a look of how reality probably is behind the camera for some productions. The brief conversations of a film crew being paid low wages, if at all, while taking frequent smoke breaks adds a humorous aspect as they gossip. Stealing this comedic undertone is Drew Brown playing crew member Drew Smith with his nonchalant “no fucks to be had attitude” as he chain smokes cigarette after cigarette. Another notable performance is Keefer Barlow who successfully portrays the obnoxiously high maintenance fictional version of herself.
Though Stalking Miss Barlow has an entertaining premise with good underlying comedy, there are a couple things that serve as a distraction. Some behind the scenes camera work could have been improved with better angles to keep the attention on key focal points. Also, despite this film making it clear that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, there are some scenes with background music that comes off a little too overdramatic failing to serve its intended purpose. Though the plot consistently moves peaking enough curiosity to keep you engaged (it would have to with a runtime of approximately 24 minutes), the suspense is a little weak.
Despite a few short comings, this film is an entertaining short that isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself or indie filmmaking in general. Though it isn’t perfect, there are plenty elements to keep this film from tanking worse than the career of a B-movie scream queen burnout. It has me curious to see what else these filmmakers have to offer. If you’d like to watch Stalking Miss Barlow, you can see it on youtube – right here.