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“The Ball” from LA-based, indie filmmaker Zach Lorkiewicz’s Youtube channel Count the Clock is a darkly hilarious look at the horrors of high school.

Part of their Middleton High Series, “The Ball” follows a young woman on the eve of her school’s winter ball who finds that sinister forces are keen on standing in the way of her night on the town.

Following my three-part series about censorship and the trouble many independent filmmakers face when getting their content out to the masses, we were contacted by independent filmmaker Zach Lorkiewicz, who is based out of Los Angeles.

Lorkiewicz and other artists bring their DIY prowess and artistic talents to his Youtube Channel Count the Clock, which is chock-full of horror shorts, music videos, and other projects that are all independently funded with money out of their own pockets.

Independent filmmakers are facing a difficult time not just due to censorship, but because distribution markets are oversaturated with big-budget projects from well-known filmmakers and, while there has been an incredibly positive push toward placing more of a spotlight on independent labels, filmmakers, and low-budget films, much of  the talent slips under the radar, just waiting to be discovered.

Part of Count the Clock’s Middleton High Series, “The Ball” is a Shakespearean tale of black magic on the eve on the winter ball, where Pearlie (Avril Dominguez) is eagerly awaiting a rendezvous with her love only to find that someone she scorned to attain said love is waiting to throw a wrench in the works after being cursed.

Clocking in at just under eight minutes, “The Ball” is a quick tale of vengeance and black magic laced together with tight prose, as the entirety of the short is spoken in rhyme.

It’s an interesting take, and the cleverly written tale is helmed beautifully by Dominguez, who plays both “heroine” and “villainess,” though it’s left purposefully vague as to who, exactly, is in the right.

The singular set piece lends nicely to the short’s entirely DIY creation. But unlike many super low-budget indie shorts, it knows its own limitations and focuses instead on telling an interesting story rather than wasting the budget on special effects. Ectoplasmic showdown that it is once the two females collide, I found that I was more entranced with the script and rhyme than I was focused on the minimalist effects.

The camera work is more heavily utilized than other shorts in this category I’ve seen, which tend to sacrifice artistic angles and shot design for more blood and guts.

If you want to see an interesting, well-written story that is comedic, not too scary, and feels like an eccentric spoken word piece, don’t sleep on this one.

Hungry for more, I skimmed the channel and discovered another horror short, “Domestica”, which is a gross-out tale of woman vs. house flies as she prepares an elaborate feast. Barely over a three-minute run-time, “Domestica” is a beautifully disgusting little piece that speaks an all too familiar tale to those of us who despise the buggy, warmer months and sticky summer nights where you just can’t escape the flies, no matter what you do.

It’s a bit of a slow descent into madness as our chef is tormented by these persistent household pests and will stop at nothing – and I really do mean nothing – to attempt to salvage her dinner party. Certainly, there’s no shortage of blood and viscera in this one, which was a bit surprising given how tame “The Ball” was, but Count the Clock seems to be varied in its tastes, topics, and seems to have an offering for everyone.

If you want something off the beaten path that’s super short but high on cringe factor, give this one a try.

Independent artists are the lifeblood of genre films, and I feel we’re richer for having DIY artists like Lorkiewicz and crew producing content for us to enjoy.

With so many mediums for films, books, and other art in the horror world, there’s no reason not to explore a bit and dip your toes in the waters of low-budget filmmaking and purely independent content. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover your new favorite thing.

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