Dir. Gary Whorley (2020)
Michael dies before completing an important text message. He must find a way to complete his message to the one he loves... from Hell.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
With the site shutting down soon, I wanted to at least take a chance to show some love to a few more films that have been sent my way. First up is What I Meant To Say Was..., and indie horror comedy about a man who died while sending a text message to his girlfriend. Apparently, there is a loophole in the underworld that allows someone, through massive (and convoluted) effort, to finish their last text message. Michael (Steve Wandling), a young man who is in love with a woman named Lana (Zoe Scarborough), gets this opportunity and tries to make the best of it, utilizing the help of a sarcastic demon named Chang (Gary Whorley, who serves triple duty as the film's writer and director as well). Together they must avoid the attention of The Horny One (Sheri Davis) and try to reconnect Michael with the love of his life.
The production values on the film were fairly low, which was practically unavoidable with only a $3,000 budget. The audio could use a little work and there are a few missteps with the camerawork, at times not focusing on the person who's speaking and sometimes drifting a little during shots. That said, the movie is surprisingly heartwarming and a lot deeper than it really has any right to be. Wandling and Scarborough do a fantastic job in their roles, two impressive performances given the pair's lack of screen experience. Whorley is genuinely funny (at least most of the time), and the script is clever enough to carry the story forward while providing entertainment throughout. Though it does suffer at times with its pacing, a fairly standard experience with low-budget indie films, it's an engaging and thoroughly enjoyable experience.
As Michael, Chang, and their guide Carmeletta (Jae Grace) journey through the layers of Hell, Whorley changes the color palette to keep the audience abreast of the location. The story could've perhaps used a little tightening, but it's surprisingly humorous and endearing even at its worst. Whorley does a good job of making a watchable film despite its shortcomings, most of which can be explained away by budget. And, as we've continually preached at The Horror Revolution every chance we get, lack of budget is not a fair criticism. It's easy to see that Whorley and his friends have some talent, and I'm definitely looking forward to checking out more of his films. If you get the chance, you should do the same. After all, the true friends are the demons we meet along the way.
Who this movie is for: Indie film fans, "Horror" comedy lovers, Hell tour guides
Bottom line: While the film definitely has its shortcomings, What I Meant To Say Was... is a charming tale of love in the afterlife. The actors all do a great job in their roles and writer/director Whorley does a great job of crafting an interesting story with some excellent characters. Wandling, Whorley, and Grace are really good, and while you can tell there's a general lack of budget all around, it hardly removes from the impact of the film. If you're looking for an indie film and you're aware of some of the faults inherent in a film of this size and budget, this one might be right up your alley. And make sure you stay tuned during the credits for a few star-studded Easter eggs!