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Film Review: SHOVEL – an Indie Horror Short

Written by Doug Newville and directed by Ryan Policky, the short film SHOVEL makes six minutes of true no-budget indie horror look wicked good.

SHOVEL Introduces a Brutal New Killer + a Cute Creepy Little Girl

SHOVEL indie horror short film poster

“A little girl looking for special attention walks on a thin line of reality.”

Despite being a horror film, SHOVEL came to me by way of an old music business partner and friend, Yvonne Laughlin. She’s a top-notch music publicist whom I never pictured as a horror geek. Just goes to show how networking with peeps of various backgrounds and preferences can open doors within your own business.

Through Yvonne I was introduced to Shovel writer Doug Newville – a wicked awesome dude I might add. He made me feel all special and stuff by slipping me a screener and that’s how we got where we are today – reviewing a wicked cool indie horror short…

Film particulars…

Shovel is a 6-minute no-budget indie horror film written by Doug Newville and directed by Ryan Policky. The two of them together produced the short. It features Aeona Cruz, Rodney Tidwell, Sara & Eldritch, Benton Mckibben, and Isaac Archuleta. Policky also takes on the role of a corpse in a field while Newville plays the title character.

Cameras used (and used pretty darn well) in making the film were the Sony A7SII and Canon c100, along with the DJI Mavic Pro drone. Doug tells me that the film’s budget was around $500, mostly for molasses & makeup. So yeah, a big shout out to Grandma’s Molasses.

Drone and molasses

My take on the film…

Flowers gently swaying in the wind. A little girl (Aeona Cruz) picks one of the flowers and goes skipping along her way. There’s something unsettling about little girls frolicking through the opening scenes of a horror movie, IMHO. The weird and creepy soundtrack kinda helps that along. I would say backing track but the sound is overpowering and almost terrifying so kudos for that.

Then comes Shovel! No waiting here as the title character takes over the screen within 30 seconds. A giant beast of a man in tattered clothing with a blood-splattered head. He’s definitely got that “backwoods camping trip gone wrong” hixploitation look. But that custom-made killing tool takes the cake. Imagine an ordinary shovel head that has been cut into the shape of sharp jagged teeth. Yeah man I like that.

SHOVEL - indie horror character

About 30 seconds later – his first kill, yeah baby. Then more creepy little girl. I’m pretty sure at this point she’s gonna play a bigger part in all of this. And so it alternates between Shovel’s kills and the little girl’s frolicking. As the scenes transition back & forth we’re treated to some great cinematography and camera shots. The aerial pans, in particular, are amazingly cool.

The film itself seamlessly blends hillbilly horror & slasher flicks with elements of a groundbreaking classic like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. All in all, I really dig this movie. Solid scripting, practical FX, and brutality mixed with great direction make it happen. Kudos to the writer, director and all involved. SHOVEL is our new horror icon \m/

Wicked lover of indie horror. Author, composer, screenwriter, and web designer. Indestructible Navy veteran with a cybernetic heart and a metal head.

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