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“Hooker Assassin” is an intelligent, thrilling, well-crafted short featuring strong performances and great direction from first time filmmaker Misty Dawn.

Hooker AssasinI had the pleasure of screening an impressive new short from Misty Dawn called Hooker Assassin. Longtime genre junkie Dawn wrote the script for the film, along with Associate Producer Hanna Campbell. She also makes her directorial debut in the excellent short about a young woman struggling to survive.

Indie horror darling Cortney Palm (Zombeavers, Death House) plays Jessi, a strong and determined woman who refuses to be a victim, despite her tragic circumstances. She must balance the need to survive by selling her body and her soul with her devotion to her daughter and the desire to keep her safe at all costs.

With a name like Hooker Assassin, I went into this viewing expecting a fun, campy homage to grindhouse cinema. However, while it remains highly entertaining, this is actually a much darker and more gripping film than anticipated.  

In fact, Dawn has spoken about her inspiration for this film and her desire to not only entertain but raise awareness for the dark reality of human trafficking. She explains, “The intention is to collectively create a dark and visually stunning look into the potential reality of a human trafficking victim, with a bit of a twist.”

The success of the short relies heavily on the two main leads. For my fellow indie horror fans, I don’t need to tell you how great the theatrically trained Cortney Palm is, and she is as formidable as I’ve ever seen her in this role. She’s extremely effective expressing the gamut of emotions throughout the film’s scant run time: from confusion, to fear, to anger, to panic, to sadness, and finally to stoic determination.

Her co-star, Daniel Hampel (Homecoming) is equally impressive as her demented yet terrifyingly cool captor. He’s wonderfully menacing as the deadly John who seems to take a great deal of sick pleasure in toying with his prey — torturing and taunting her, before fully revealing just how sadistic he really is.

While the compelling, convincing performances really sell the dramatic horror, Dawn shows incredible promise behind the camera. She beautifully frames each tense and thrilling moment and proves she knows how to bring out the best in her onscreen talent.

She also excels at effective storytelling through creative camera work. I loved the use of split screen in the opening scenes to quickly and effectively established Jessi’s complicated dual life — loving single mom by day and reluctant sex worker by night.

It’s a great way to clearly articulate, without exposition or dialogue, why Jessi finds herself in this situation — and the lengths she’ll go to provide for and protect her daughter. Without much time for the audience to get to know our heroine, Dawn manages to create an immediately sympathetic character that we care about and root for.

There’s also plenty of bloodshed and brutality to satisfy hardcore horror fans, especially as the short ramps up to its thrilling conclusion. The effects look great, and Dawn masterfully balances the horror with the more dramatic elements to ensure the violence never feels cheap or exploitative.

It’s clear a lot of passion went into making this film, which was originally funded at 109% of its goal on Indiegogo back in October 2015.

Dawn’s directorial debut signals a very promising career ahead. The mark of a great short is one that tells a complete story and leaves the viewer both satisfied yet hungry for more. HOOKER ASSASSIN definitely hits that mark, accomplishing a great deal in its short run time and leaving you anxious to see much more of Jessi’s story — especially in light of an effective ending that leaves the door open for a continuing saga.

When you get a chance, definitely check out this short. And be sure to keep your eye out for Misty Dawn and what she does next. She’s, without a doubt, one to watch.

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1 Comment

1 Record

  1. on December 17, 2017 at 5:11 pm
    Daniel Hampel wrote:

    An incredible review. What an honor. Huge shout out to our brilliant Director of Photography, ACE FILLMORE.

    Reply

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