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By Merle Bertrand | March 9, 2004

Does the company that creates Cliff Notes provide the same service for movies? I ask this because that’s the distinct impression I got after watching director Guiniviere Webb’s horror short “The Outsider’s Club.”

Kelly Johnson (Sarah Postle) is the new girl in town. Following her parents’ divorce, Kelly moves into a cute but kinda spooky cottage with her mother. Kelly quickly makes a best friend in Mary (Jessica Gardner) and, except for the occasional pangs of loneliness for her father, life doesn’t seem too bad. Which makes it all the more odd when Michelle (Alma Moya), a smugly condescending Goth girl appears in her nightie and invites Kelly to join their club.

Unbeknownst to Kelly, however, membership in The Outsider’s Club seems to be short-term only, as previous members, including Wiley’s (Matt Flick) sister, have all committed suicide shortly after joining. With Kelly on the verge of doing the same, egged on by a bevy of saucy spirits in gauzy nighties, it’s up to Wiley and Mary to save the naive newcomer before her membership dues cut too deep.

It almost seems as if Webb has the makings of a feature film here, but she copped out and made a short film instead. As a result, “The Outsider’s Club” lurches awkwardly from plot point to plot point, blowing over any chance at character development, (as well as any chance for the viewer to develop a vested interest in the characters), in the process. We’re left with the skeletal framework of a creepy thriller without the flesh. As anyone who’s used Cliff Notes before will tell you, such bare bones essentials might get you by, but they’re not at all satisfying. Not surprisingly, then, neither is “The Outsider’s Club.”

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