REVIEW: 'Forgotten Trash', a sci-fi horror by Retro Video Pictures
Updated: Aug 27
"It was in the last few days of college when one of my friends brought his DV Camera into class. That sparked the original idea of shooting a true "VHS style" film. The goal of all of this was to take the homemade feel of Shot-on-Video films and combine it with the cinematic style that most films use. At the time the closest thing I had seen to a Shot-on-video film was the 1989 Canadian film Things which was actually shot on super 8. However throughout the pre-production/production of Forgotten Trash I saw SOV classics like Sledgehammer (1983), Video Violence (1987) and Venus Flytrap (1987) which had some influence on the film.
- Brandon Espana (writer/director/producer)
Outside the Spotlight says: Retro Video Pictures is one of the most genuinely fascinating production companies on the indie film scene. As the name suggests, RVP with writer/director Brandon Espana create films to resemble the style of an old VHS and the filmic experience that the viewer gets is utterly unparalleled and if one was unaware of the modern-day production then one would undoubtedly be fooled into thinking that this was indeed the product of a time gone by. Retro Video’s films are presented in a lost-movie sort of way, as if they were recovered from deep in the woods never intended to be seen.
That building sense of dread is ever-present in Forgotten Trash: a sci-fi horror, which in itself is a genre that excels in this style of filmmaking, as horror has been long-established as the genre most likely to benefit from a low-budget. The 53-minute long shot-on-video picture follows Daniel: a film graduate who happens to stumble across a mysterious man in the woods. The man, actually an alien, convinces Daniel to assist with a successful, sinister intergalactic television show, promising he be greatly compensated.
The alien, portrayed by Steve Kasan is stone-faced and matter-of-fact. His monotone speaking and his mannerisms, down to the way he blinks displays that he is not of our world nor our mindset. His idea of building tension for the show is translated into our own viewing experience, aided by the initially apprehensive Daniel (Connor Mcdonald), who comes around to the idea upon learning of the show’s literal universal success, becoming quite menacing himself, with a closing shot that stay lingering in the corners of your mind. Additional characters include only the pair’s victims.
As previously stated, Forgotten Trash presents a VHS, zero-budget film recreation to perfection. It is intertwined with a more modern cinematic style however manages to feel utterly authentic down to the crackly sound design which is also crisp and clear, almost to the level of ASMR at times- even more so than Espana’s first film, Undercover Bike Cop, also covered here on Outside the Spotlight, which looked to achieve a similar aesthetic,
Additionally, Forgotten Trash is preceded by a short segment entitled ‘The Apparition and Ms. Delware’ starring Olivia Cugliari and Ali Shmaisani, which acts as sort of a mood-setter and sinister prelude to the full feature, presented partially in the style of a commercial. In it, a girl converses with a ghost, dressed in a white sheet and sunglasses; which may sound comical however ends up being genuinely unsettling, aided by a deep, croaky voice.
Retro Video Pictures have made Forgotten Trash available for free throughout the month of June, and you’d be a fool to forget to check it out because trash, this certainly is not.
Forgotten Trash is the first in a Shot-on-Video trilogy created by Brandon Espana. It is followed by the Psychological Experimental Horror Stir Crazy (2020) and will conclude with a Puppet Horror Film titled Public Access Limited which is currently in Production.
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[Custom poster designed and artworked by Outside the Spotlight]