The Other Side – Review

The Other Side is a feature-length horror-thiller directed by Chris Niespodzianski and Ray Mongelli III based on a short film of the same name. The production boasts over a hundred extras, a twenty-five-plus member crew, and a respectable budget. The crew, the musicians, and most of the actors are from the Pittsburgh area.

The first act presents itself as a family drama: father-daughter strife, a runaway mom, a steamy love affair, and ruffians battling addiction. It plays straight first, until we learn of the mayor’s nefarious pesticide dealings and, oh, the ZOMBIES RAVAGING THE WOODS!



The film manages its several plotlines well, well… For the most part. Dad needs to get daughter to school and track down wife. Policeman needs to find missing people. The mayor needs to get some putts on the green (we’ll refer to him as “Mulligan Matt”), and the ruffians… We’re not sure what they’re up to. The narrative plays out mostly linear with a few interspersed flashbacks.

The audience finds out more information as the story rolls along— except that the characters talk out every plot detail. Each scene is stuffed with dialogue presented as an over-the-shoulder cutting to a profile shot. They talk. And then yell. Fast. Loud. Talking. Every scene escalates quickly, there’s little dynamic in the story. Rather than increasing tension, it grindlocks the story to a crawl.  The slow, stagnant pacing does NOT win the race this time. The constant dialogue prevents us from getting attached to the characters. We rarely get to “see” them doing anything. Most scenes lack distinct arcs: something happens, something else happens, something happens in the profile cut, and someone continues explaining their thoughts.

At best, the Other Side is an unconventional zombie film. The zombies aren’t the focus, we don’t catch a glimpse of them until midway through. The monsters tie the story together: we find out why the wife goes missing, why everyone gathers at the school, and make for a surprising twist. The credit sequence completes some loose plot ends in quick, striking style. The gore, especially the mangled corpses, will surely turn stomachs. The dialogue was audible, the score was appropriate. Everything necessary was in focus. The color grading was solid. The shots were properly exposed. The final jib shots (the field and basketball court) caught our eyes with their grand, sweeping motion and utter desolation.

Screenshot from 2014-12-18 22:38:26

Other than the glorious jibbing, most shots were poorly composed. Characters faces are half-out of frame, backs obscure large parts of the foreground, everything is too tight in frame. Take two steps back and most shots would improve drastically. Several over-the-shoulder shots broke the eyesight line. It doesn’t feel properly storyboarded. Most of the film suffers from prominent rolling shutter and jittery camera, makes it hard to watch. Simple filters can fix this. The initial zombie reveal looked like it was shot at a higher framerate, but played back incorrectly.

The acting… How do I make myself cry?  The janitor’s two lines fit the burn-out caricature perfect, taking our best-of-show award.  The bat-wielding security guard was pretty cool, too.  The award for worst actor goes to… it’s a tie! We couldn’t decide.

"If you must know, Jimmy, I'm going to see the mayor."

“If you must know, Jimmy, I’m going to see the mayor.”

 Perhaps we’re being too harsh. Some of the actors deliver memorable caricatures (Mulligan Matt, we’re looking at you). Most of the subpar acting could’ve been alleviated with less dialogue, less gestures, and a massive dose of seeing the characters rather than hearing them. Put one of them alone in a room. Watch how they behave.

The Other Side feels like it would be at home on a doorside dvd rental rack. It’s certainly not a terrible film, and the solid production value is a cut above many other similar movies. It’s properly exposed, sounds good, and the story is interesting, though not well-executed.  It seems like the director took on too many roles in the production: director, editor, assistant DP.  Multitasking may work on five-man short, but features need a constant guiding vision.  The Other Side feels like a rough cut.  Let it sit for a few weeks, go back and tighten it up.  Blue Velvet had over an hour cut out, you know?

You can order a dvd of the film or a copy of the soundtrack from

“An Electric Literature Single Sentence Animation” by Martha Colburn

Martha Colburn imagines Diana Wagman

Kyle Says:

“The bare expanse of her chest…”

The woman’s cut out breast, a disintegration of the accepted female archetype dismantling the gender stereotype. The animals comes out of the breast hole, symbolizing woman as a creative, primal force of nature. Superimposing the Christface over the woman’s face symbolizes the systematic male subjugation of the feminine, ritualized misogyny. The image of Cleopatra’s head over the woman in the bedroom can represent the conflict of “woman-as-a-sex object” and “woman-as-a-god-queen.” The woman in lotus pose contemplates on what comes next, liberation from gender oppression. The final shot of the man lobbing a hand grenade represents the man’s aggressive reactions.

Kevin Sees:

Painstaking stop motion frame by frame process: climb the ladder, snap a frame, climb down the ladder, move the top cut out figure slightly, climb the ladder, snap a frame, climb down the ladder… Reminiscent of the punk cinema movement, fast zooms, fast movement, overload of information flashing by, influence to early music videos and the MTV generation. Feminist movement, two sides (faces) of the woman (positive and negative imagery).

Single Sentence Animations are creative collaborations between writers published in Electric Literature and contemporary visual artists. The writer selects a single sentence from his or her work and the animator creates a short film in response.

Spooky Short Movie Fest in Honesdale Seeks Submissions!

…the Canaltown Short Spooky Movie fest takes place on November 1st @7pm at the Cooperage in Honesdale, PA.   They’re currently accepting short films under five minutes in the genres‘ “horror” or “scary” or “psychological” or “thriller” or “campy” or “creepy” or “eerie” ‘ and are tasteful in regards to sex and violence.  They accept digital submissions that are ‘dvd compileable’.  The deadline is October 4th.  The submission form is available here.
Screenshot from 2014-08-08 10:55:05

“CHEYENNE” for Project Greenlight

Local director Lindsay Barrasse has submitted her short film “CHEYENNE” to HBO’s Project Greenlight, a contest for a chance to direct a feature film.  “CHEYENNE” is a silent visual piece, juxtaposing the dismal present with a happier past.  You can sign up to judge entries at

OPEN SCREENING @ 24 Hours of Art at the Vintage!

That’s right! IRON REELS returns for a special one-off open screening during the Vintage’s annual 24-art explosion.  As always, we’ll bring a projector and PA, you’ll bring the best (or worst, or diamond-in-the-roughest) cuts of ANYTHING you’re working on, or completing; the audience will bring their best constructive feedback.  Sign-ups start at 10pm, the screening runs from 10:30-Midnight.  Come early for a live music DRAWING SOCIAL from 7pm-10pm and stay late for the midnight STORY SLAM!  It’s going to be a blast, you don’t want to miss it!


“Eli,” Claymation, 2nd Place Winner of the Vintage Filmmakers’ Challenge!

We held a challenge for last month’s Short Film Fest at the Vintage: Two lines of dialogue, choice of three genres, one prop, a character name; two weeks to make a five-minute short film.

Chosen by audience vote, the second place winner was “Eli,” a charming claymation by soon-to-be film student, challenge seeker, and self-taught animator Ben Doran.  Ben has been interested in film and animation since he was 9 and uses contests and challenges to build his skills.  He mostly works with claymation and stop motion, but also dabbles in Flash and Cel animation.  He will enter the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Film and Animation program in the fall.

His challenge assignment was:
Experimental / Yo-Yo / The Big Guy / “Who Broke My Robot?”

Ben created his characters by hand-sewing cloth over wire armatures, then clay modelling the heads and hands.  This allowed more flexibility with less chance of the models falling apart.  Ben was asked several times how he made the Yo-Yo throws at the festival.  “To be honest they are all kind of over thinking it. I had 6 different lengths of rigid wire, and replaced them to get progressively longer.  The wire looked like string in miniature and kept the yo-yo out straight.”

Check out ‘Claydogh’ on Vimeo for more from Ben Doran.

Second Place won a $50 gift certificate to Voyager Video and a pair of tickets to Invasion of the Body Snatchers screening at the FM Kirby Center.


“This year marks the twenty year anniversary of the Slaughter County murders.  Witnesses say the killer was wearing a gas mask and carrying an axe… Locals revisit the abandoned scene of the crime.  The killer was never found.” 

NITROUS THE MOVIE, a film by Preston Corbell straight out of Austin, Texas, follows a woman exploring a long abandoned murder scene.  The film plays like a first person scavenger hunt, photo-documenting the run-down house. The film occurs in real-time using long shots with minimal cutting, resulting in a visual slow burn.  Haunting organ music plays throughout, setting the pace.

The woman photographs corners, closets, junk, and the only standout objects in the house: dolls.  Then, the gas mask-clad killer appears.

The cinematography mimics first person found footage.  But who’s holding the camera?  Is it a head cam?  Is it a second person? It’s highly reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project.  The opening car shots call to mind Night of the Living Dead.  

While the film has good atmosphere and a great soundtrack,  we’re not sure what to make of it.  If it’s a slow burn, it’s too slow.  The exposition slate sets up the ‘plot,’ but it feels nebulous at best, we never learn more about it.  The film feels hastily shot, without much direction.

Are you familiar with Slenderman?  It’s a game where you scavenge for the these hidden notes, all the while, Slenderman hunts you.  You turn around, there’s Slenderman! Instead of Slenderman, we get a gas-masked axe wielder.  

May Cancellation… June FESTIVAL at the Vintage!

Sorry for the late announcement, BUT we will not be holding an open screening at First Friday this month (May 2nd). Our fantastic art patron at the Ritz has closed his shop and we are currently looking for a new home for First Friday. We may have something in the works for next month, but if anyone has any leads, let us know.

On a brighter note, we will be doing more reviews on our blog and are working with the Community Film Project & the Vintage to put on a SUMMER SOLSTICE film festival.

Please share this around, we deeply lament not screening this month and appreciate all the support and enthusiasm we’ve received.  Look forward to the open screening’s phoenixesque revival!