In Jason Coffman’s disturbing short film Tape, a business agreement goes from odd and creepy to downright haunting. Jim Carsten (Aaron Christensen) makes a deal with the masked Mr. Lake (Jason Coffman) of Unusual Services to make someone disappear. Mr. Lake explains to Jim, via audio cassette tape instead of directly speaking to him, though they are sitting at a table across from one another, that once services have been rendered, a VHS tape will be sent to Jim. Jim is not to destroy it or throw it away. If he does, another one will be sent to replace it. For the rest of his life, Jim must be in possession of the tape.
And all seems golden or at least forgotten for Jim after he makes the deal, that is until the tape arrives. Jim puts it in the VCR and, to his shock, sees the consequences of his agreement. Disgusted, he destroys the tape and throws it away. True to his business partner’s audio cassette-garbled word, however, a new tape arrives at Jim’s work. No matter what Jim does, a new tape appears and, as Mr. Lake becomes increasingly annoyed with this person who so obviously tries to flake out on his agreement, things start to get more horrific for Jim.
Tape is a dark ride, leaving you feeling a little gross, but it is fun. The character of Mr. Lake, and how he is handled in the film, is quite interesting and I want to see an expanded piece that explores Unusual Services some more. It’s not the most comfortable place to cinematically dwell for a while but I am intrigued.
If anything felt truly out-of-place, honestly, it’s that Jim still had a VCR at the ready to play the tape. Still, when you think about it, that sort of cuts down on the danger of Jim’s tape ever being seen by someone else, at least outside of his own house. It’s not quite a criticism as much as a “huh, I guess I’m not the only one out there who still has a VCR” moment.
Tape is disturbing, heavily creepy and even sneaks some gore in… and I want more. Some more mindfuck-fun; I think filmmaker Jason Coffman has proven that he is capable of delivering on his ideas, so now I want to see more of this off-kilter universe he’s crafted (probably in a dirty film chemistry lab; you know, sharing beakers and the like).
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