A rash political decision leads to some horrific incidents for 6 college friends on holiday together to celebrate their winter group. This is Colby Cyrus and Andrew Medeiros’ slasher film Exitus.
With more than a few nods to classic horror films like Halloween and Scream, Cyrus and Medeiros’s Exitus manages to carve its own niche into the independent slasher film genre. Filmed with a budget of $800, the directing team gives us enough blood, guts, and gore to keep horror fans happy, while also providing us with an energetic script that keeps us interested in the story.
Opening with the brutal roadside killing of an innocent, Exitus cuts swiftly to a family home where the local town Mayor is getting ready for work. We learn that the previous murder had been committed by a prisoner that the Mayor had released from prison purely for political reasons and he now has the blood of the victim on his hands. Due to a twisty script co-written by Medeiros and Cyrus, we only learn the significance of this later on in the short.
Meanwhile, another jump sees us following a car to a beach house where some college friends are gathering for a weekend of partying and debauchery. Here we are introduced to smug rich kid Don (played with odious relish by Andrew Medeiros) whose dad owns the house, his bitchy sister Lizzy (Sarah Hirsch), and her new boyfriend River (Colby Cyrus). There are also three other characters consisting of a lesbian couple and Don’s girlfriend Mary who has one or two moments, but all three are pretty much side-lined throughout the 26-minute run time.
Medeiros’ performance as Don is the standout, as he chews the scenery, spits out insults with sheer venom, and generally behaves much like you would expect a spoilt rich kid to behave; it’s a very believable performance.
The cinematography by Spencer Daniel shows some visual flair, with a lot of the shots taken at a variety of angles using multiple focal lengths. The scenes on the beach of Lizzy, and then her boyfriend, are particularly memorable as they give us a sense of time and place. While many scenes are shot from low, which provides the audience with a sense of unease, each character begins to look more frightened yet also more suspicious.
What ultimately hinders Exitus from becoming really good are a few technical aspects that spoil the overall quality. There is a confusing sound mix that over-eggs the music while underplaying the performances, leaving some dialogue difficult to make out, while some of the sound effects are far too loud and occasionally distort proceedings. The editing too is also a bit of a mixed bag as some of the establishing shots don’t fit together with mid shots, and some close-ups don’t quite match up with the reaction shots. Meanwhile, the soundtrack despite being very similar to John Carpenter’s Halloween theme suits the film and adds atmosphere to some of the more startling scenes.
With that being said, Exitus is a decent independent slasher film that, thanks to a clever script, manages to provide us with some memorable moments and a couple of striking characters.