ARTIK ** USA 2019 Dir: Tom Botchii Skowronski. 78 mins
The Artik of the title, as essayed by Jerry G Angelo, is a midwestern husband and father who wants his young son Adam (Gavin White) to carry on his work: he prepares for this by taking the kid out on the backroads in New Mexico to help with the clear-ups after Dad has slaughtered passing strangers. While the comic book obsessed Artik and his wife (Lauren Ashley Carter) ponder over their unrealistic ambitions, Adam meets a sympathetic stranger (Chase Williamson) and things start to change dramatically.
Barely feature length – it comes in around 69 minutes before the end credits – this starts as a well-acted, compelling character-driven piece with a gritty, talky opening stretch in the poor-white-trash psychological horror vein. It also delivers a quite shocking, literally in-your-face bit of violent business with a fork. Alas, despite an impressive look for a low budget film, it devolves into yet another torture movie, with a second half that feels very old hat and undoes the good work done by the actors. Writer-director Tom Botchii Skowronski, graduating from short films such as NIGHT TERRORIZER, 11 MINUTES and GOLDBLOODED, displays enough promise to suggest his future features will be worth keeping an eye out for.
Review by Steven West