Director Isabel Estabrook was kind enough to send me a link to her short horror film TOUGH AS NAILS. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Julie Landriault was the female lead.
Cacti Productions Presents Tough As Nails
Tough As Nails was written by Stephen Gagne in which I believe to be his screenwriting debut. It was produced & directed by Isabel Estabrook (Cedar Grove Lake, “The Forgotten Chronicles” TV series). Joining Julie Landriault as Emily is co-lead Blake Canning who portrays Matt.
Kristian De Francesco and Sean Rakowski, who both only appear for a second, are credited as “friend” and “dead body” respectively. Oh, and David Plouffe (in voice only) plays the killer, or more like the mastermind, I guess.
Tough as Nails is a short horror film about young lovers in need of a vacation who soon learn that their host has different plans for them.
My take on the film…
When will people learn that an isolated cabin in the woods is a really bad idea? But yeah, Emily and Matt apparently rented the said cabin from some weirdo they’ve never actually met. You know, internet rentals, a creepy cabin in the woods, sight unseen, all good… Ugh, seriously peeps?
Seems like a nice place but the one-eyed teddy bear in the bedroom with human fingernails screamed red flag – jes sayin’. And the mysterious padlocked room? Yeah, never anything good in there lol Throw in some strange beeps, bumps, and knocks. Maybe I’m missing something but Emily seems unphased by the disturbances.
This could be labeled as a spoiler alert but you already know that one of the cast members is a dead body, right? Yep, the couple finds the body during a walk in the woods and of course, Emily’s phone won’t call out. However, she suddenly begins receiving creepy phone calls. The voice reminds me of Charlie from the original Charlie’s Angels only… creepy.
Regrouping back at the cabin, the now freaked out couple discover a basement trap door. C’mon peeps, don’t go down there. Sure enough, not a good idea. More creepiness, more phone calls, darkness… and that’s it. I really can’t go any further without a complete spoil.
The acting was not Oscar material but then again, not many performances are. It was solid, though. Julie and Blake worked pretty well together. At just over eight minutes, the first five are a slow burn and could have used more character development, IMHO. The last three minutes, though, give you what you want to see in a creepy cabin in the woods flick.
Both the camera work and the sound had an old-school vibe. Some of the quick close-ups were definitely reminiscent of 70s slashers. Did I mention the sound? Yep, in the last three minutes, it tells a story in itself so yeah kudos.
I can see this film as a full length feature continuing from where it leaves off. As is, it’s well worth 8+ minutes of your time. In fact, I’ve included it below so check it out.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below or across the screamfix social networks. And don’t forget to check out Tough As Nails on IMDb.
Wicked lover of indie horror. Author, composer, screenwriter, and web designer. Indestructible Navy veteran with a cybernetic heart and a metal head.