One of my favorite facets of cinema is the ability of the storyteller to expose us to tales of sheer karma coming back to bite us in the a*s. Anyone can receive it, from the heel that pushed our psycho a little too far, to the mobster’s crony who finds himself murdered by an old enemy, and of course, there’s your favorite device and mine: the predator who suddenly becomes the prey.
“Hard Wood,” another in the many great “On the Lot” competitors, is a horror film that finds a vicious escaped convict who breaks free from and murders two hapless armed guards, and goes on the run in a large acre of woods to find that his worst enemies aren’t vicious K-9’s, or a relentless SWAT team, but the woods themselves that he’s injured himself in, and their merciless surroundings with a sudden taste for his blood.
As he goes on the lam, he finds that he’s now become the victim of something entirely more sinister, and director Frascino creates an excellent horror short that perfectly paces itself and never draws out the story that’s really only fit for a short format. Sure, other directors can try for a feature length film, but the premise for “Hard Wood” works so much more as a short, in the end.
It’s the perfect morality horror story best suited for an anthology series in which our classic psychotic criminal who attempts to evade the authorities and will kill anyone in his path, finds that he’s in an alien setting that will not show him any quarter. Frascino never explains the setting, nor does he exactly explore our villain much, but that’s sufficient enough for what the film is intent on bringing to the table.
Frascino’s film is filled with very good direction that keeps the narrative at a lively pace, and leads to a gruesome and utterly disturbing ending that will ensure a large audience during festival time. The hook of “Hard Wood” works from minute one, and I was utterly immersed with Frascino and his tale of the supernatural and classic comeuppance.