Filmmakers Chris Cheeseman and Paul Krysinsky give us their low-budget indie take on the zombie genre in the horror feature Mind Leech. This origin story opens with two rednecks on assignment, working for the evil Chem Corp. Unfortunately, they are too lazy to dispose of a canister filled with toxic chemicals correctly, so they dump it in the nearby fishing lake and then shoot it with a shotgun when it doesn’t sink. This clearly can’t be good for the environment.
Months later, in the heart of winter, we’re introduced to Deputy Terrika “TJ” Johnson (Steff Ivory Conover). She recently joined the sheriff’s department after her husband started a prestigious job at Chem Corp. Her boss Sheriff Benjamin Paley Jr. (Mishca O’Hoski), and the new deputy investigate some commotion at a local fishing shack on the frozen lake.
Earlier that day, buddies “Juicy” Josh (Daniel James McGee) and Craig (Paul Krysinski) were fishing and reeled in a rat-sized leech. It attached itself to Josh, took over his body, and promptly murdered Craig. The leech-controlled Josh now goes on a killing rampage throughout the lakeside town. The determined Johnson and Paley are after Josh for Craig’s murder. Little do they realize that there’s a bigger ecological and zombie threat as they attempt to take down Josh.
I’ve seen my fair share of cheap, kitschy horror films. That said, Mind Leech is a surprisingly excellent and solid indie horror film. The first thing it does right is not tip its hand that there was no budget to go full horror. Instead, Cheeseman and Krysinsky rightly limit how much you see of their budgetary shortcomings and hit hard on producing high-quality results with what they did have.
“…a rat-sized leech…attached itself to Josh…and promptly murdered Craig.”
And what they did have was a good cast of characters and actors. Conover is simply fantastic as Deputy Johnson, and she acts her a*s off. With the exception of one line in the entire film, she nails all her dialogue and creates a sympathetic character. She truly looks like a backwoods sheriff pursuing a lecherous leech. Conover and the rest of the cast play everything straight. They may be new to the acting game, but each one refuses to let their inexperience be an excuse to put in a subpar performance.
Along with its acting, Mind Leech makes good use of its winter woods setting. The fishing shack and the warehouse are simply the perfect locations for a horror film. Cheeseman and Krysinsky’s planning is effective in creating the ideal murder scenes.
Let’s face it. The budget is the real weakness here. I’m sure the lack of lighting necessitated mostly daylight shoots. Well, that and the cold. Horror always works best in darkness. The budget was also lite on the makeup and gore effects, but what is here is good enough not to feel cheap. Our monster is a rubber slug glued onto McGee’s face, but the filmmakers never let the camera linger too long to expose its cinematic shortcomings. In addition, I would have liked to see better use of the “Chem Corp” connection rather than a mere set-up for the sequel.
Mind Leech never winks at the camera, letting you on the film’s budgetary weaknesses. Instead, the film is a solid and grounded horror tale with fantastic performances and intriguing storytelling. That narrative is intriguing because it is essentially a cat-and-monster chase, where the hunter and prey switch throughout.
For screening information, visit the Mind Leech official website.
"…a solid and grounded horror tale..."