A Short Trip Down a Long, Dark Alley - A Year of Alfred J. Hemlock


Almost a year ago I was aimlessly scrolling through Instagram when a picture caught my eye. He was thin and pale, scruffy but wild eyed dressed in archaic clothes with this look of murder and madness as he hopped through the rain with an axe in his hands. This was my introduction to Alfred J. Hemlock, the Australian demon who has absolutely dominated the short film circuit in 2017 and early 2018. Reaching out to creators Edward and Melissa Lyons I was introduced to an incredible story, not to mention some terrific people. I you haven't read my original review of the film, well, what's wrong with you? I'll let it slide this time,though, and I'll recap for you.

Alfred J. Hemlock is the story of a girl wrestling with her demons, both metaphorically and literally. Emily (Renaye Loryman) has an argument with her boyfriend Guy (Christian Charisiou) who promptly kicks her out of the car in the middle of a poorly lit back alley and takes off without her. Blaming herself for all of her problems with men and life, she says she just wants to die. Enter Alfred J. Hemlock (Tristan McKinnon), a character who I can still only describe as some cross between Captain Jack Sparrow and Beetlejuice, who offers to give Emily exactly what she says she wants. All she has to do is ask. The story is one of empowerment and conquering internal demoralization that holds too many people back.

On the festival circuit, this 14 minute short has dominated for writing, acting, direction, effects... the list could go on. I had the happy fortune of getting to hang out with Edward, Melissa, and Renaye during the Women in Horror Film Festival back in September and listened to quite a few wonderful tales from the creation of Alfred J. Hemlock as well as plans for the story's future.

There's a lot of story that you didn't get to see on screen including scenes in which Emily (Renaye Loryman) would herself become possessed by the spirit of Alfred J. Hemlock. This went so far as to even have Renaye in costume and makeup as Alfred. The problem as far as director Edward Lyons was concerned "She scared the hell out of me." To which Melissa and Renaye began cackling in agreement. Meanwhile, time and the elements worked against the cast and crew as they tried to bring this vision of horror to life. Between raucous bars, an almost immovable sea of parked cars, and residents and passers by playing loud music and wandering into the set, not to mention some of the most bizarrely uncooperative weather imaginable, the crew managed to make it through the shoot and create something unique in horror.

Alfred J. Hemlock is a wonderful example of some of the best attributes of independent film and independent filmmakers with a crew that worked largely for the love of filmmaking. And where does all that hard work, devotion, and sacrifice get you? Take a look:

Top Finalist

iHorror Awards

International Short Film Competition: Finalist

USA Film Festival

Judges' Award for FX – Lucas Newton

Long Island International Film Expo

Best Trailer – Edward Lyons

Long Island International Film Expo

Best Director - Short – Edward Lyons

Hollywood Dreamz International Film Festival

Best Actor - Short – Tristan Mckinnon

Hollywood Dreamz International Film Festival

Best Cinematography - Short – Simon Harding

Hollywood Dreamz International Film Festival

Best Supporting Actress - Short (Runner Up) – Renaye Loryman

Hollywood Dreamz International Film Festival

Best Costumes (Runner Up) – Sarah Hoke

Hollywood Dreamz International Film Festival

Best Horror Short

Action on Film International Film Festival

Best Make-Up –Aidan Hirn

Action on Film International Film Festival

Best Horror Short (Finalist)

Dragon Con Independent Film Festival

Best Supporting Actor - Short – Tristan Mckinnon

FilmQuest

Best World Actor – Tristan Mckinnon

Austin Revolution Film Festival

Best Writing – Melissa Lyons & Edward Lyons

Women in Horror Film Festival

Best International Short (Runner Up)

Women in Horror Film Festival

Best Horror Short Film

Hot Springs International Horror Film Festival

Best Short Film

Wreak Havoc Horror Film Festival

Best Actress – Renaye Loryman

Wreak Havoc Horror Film Festival

Best Actor in a Short Film – Tristan Mckinnon

Rahway International Film Festival

Corey Feldman Award of Excellence for Best Short Film High Concept

Edmonton Festival of Fear

Corey Feldman Award of Excellence for Best Short Film Actor –Tristan Mckinnon

Edmonton Festival of Fear

Corey Feldman Award of Excellence for Best Short Film Actress – Renaye Loryman

Edmonton Festival of Fear

Best Short Film

Terror In The Bay Film Festival

Best Original Screenplay – Melissa Lyons & Edward Lyons

Terror In The Bay Film Festival

Best Actor – Tristan Mckinnon

Terror In The Bay Film Festival

Best Short Film

Atlanta Horror Film Festival

Hugh Moore Best of Fest

Route 66 International Film Festival

Outstanding Supernatural Horror

Zed Fest Film Festival

Outstanding Acting Performance – Tristan Mckinnon

Zed Fest Film Festival

Mary Pickford Award – Melissa Lyons

Zed Fest Film Festival

Best Short Film

Rome International Film Festival

Best Special Effects (Visual or Practical)

Hamilton Film Festival

Best Picture Short Horror Film

Film Fest LA

Best Director Short Horror Film – Edward Lyons

Film Fest LA

Best Editor Short Horror Film – Edward Lyons

Film Fest LA

Best Ensemble Short Horror Film

Film Fest LA

Best Actress Short Horror Film – Renaye Loryman

Film Fest LA

Best Actor Short Horror Film – Tristan Mckinnon

Film Fest LA

Best Supporting Actor Short Horror Film – Christian Charisiou

Film Fest LA

Best Writing Short Horror Film – Melissa Lyons & Edward Lyons

Film Fest LA

​Best Fantasy Short

Macabre Faire Film Festival

Plans are in the works for Alfred J. Hemlock's future; plans that could be expanding his story and introducing him to a much wider audience a lot sooner than you might think. If you're not already following the film on Instagram and Twitter you’re missing out. As for me, I can’t wait to see what’s next from the talented duo and the monster they’ve made.

Dan Lee is a film critic, editorialist, independent author, and horror culture correspondent from Tennessee. You can also follow him on social media @dotdblog .

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