Givertaker Giveth, Givertaker Taketh Away.
In the 1990’s, Teen Horror was in high form. In theaters you had the girls from THE CRAFT witching and bitching. On television you had ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? And on bookshelves everywhere you had countless titles by R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike. It was a magical era, and one that writer Peter S. Hall and director Paul Gandersman of Arcanum Pictures have successfully recaptured in their short film GIVERTAKER, which had its premiere at Fantastic Fest in 2016.
The premise is simple and streamlined, a necessity for the abbreviated 11-minute running time: Sarah (Nell Kessler), a high school outcast, summons supernatural forces to gain vengeance against the peers that have wronged her. The entity which she calls upon is called the Givertaker, however…so it only stands to reason that for every thing he gives you, he will be taking something else in return.
These things simply never go according to plan.
Only four (human) performers appear onscreen, and all of them—Nell Kessler, Sharmita Bhattacharya, Jessica Perrin, and Caiti Ward—do a fine job, but it is Kessler who really has a chance to shine. Pretty impressive, considering that this is her first role. The visual effects are surprisingly solid, considering what must have been a limited budget. Most importantly, though, the entire creepy tone of the short is consistent with the influences previously mentioned, but it still manages to stand on its own two feet.
GIVERTAKER is subtitled “A Dead Kids Club Story”, tying it into an (as yet unrealized) larger cinematic universe. If this is any indication of what the rest of the world will be like, draw me a god damned map. I’m ready to go exploring.
Enough talk. Watch the film below!