New Horror Releases: Used (Short Film) (2016) - Reviewed

Tristan Clay and Destinie Orndoff, the deranged minds behind Deranged Minds Productions, are not even old enough to drink alcohol.  And yet, they’re writing, producing, and directing, in addition to starring in, high quality horror shorts and even working on their first full-length film.  Their latest release is the 16-minute film Used.  Used may be short, but it packs a brutal, twisted punch, and there’s plenty here to suggest that this duo has an intriguing future ahead of them.

Used begins pretty inauspiciously.  A young woman named Regan (Orndoff) goes out to a club and meets a guy.  They seem to hit it off, though soon she’s ready to call it a night. Not wanting to go home alone, the guy slips something into her drink. As one might expect, things get ugly.  But Regan is no pushover, and she teaches her attacker a thing or two about the “weaker” sex.

Used is a story with a very strong, very blunt message.  In fact, it plays at times a bit like a particularly graphic PSA.  In fact, the brutality in Used is just a tad over the top, even straddling the line of overwrought.  This is a film that wears its Eli Roth influence very clearly on its sleeve.  Still, the viewer can forgive this to a point.  These are kids living out their horror dreams, telling a topical tale of revenge.  It comes off a bit sophomoric, but also promising.  The “About Us” section of Deranged Minds’ website shows that Clay and Orndoff have a passion for everything horror films, and it’s clearly evident in Used.

Used does make a few rookie mistakes, mainly small technical ones.  The lighting and sound are a bit off at times throughout the film.  However, if these are your worst problems, you’re still doing alright.  Orndoff (who wrote the screenplay) gives an impressive performance, obviously passionate about the material and its message.  Used is well-directed and edited and looks great for a low-budget short.  It does owe quite a bit to its influences, even a little too much at times, but the makers of Used appear off to a pretty promising start.  Their feature-length debut Red Eye, currently in production, will definitely be one to watch out for.


-Mike Stec