One of my favorite things to do on this site is to shed some light on lesser known entities. Those films that are underdogs but are definitely worthy of attention. One such film maker that I stumbled upon early on was Dustin Wayde Mills. Starting in 2010 with PUPPET MONSTER MASSACRE, he has gone onto create 17 features and numerous short films. And he comes at us with the delightfully creepy, Stranger Things-esque short DON’T ANSWER THE DOOR.
Earlier this year, DWM took to Patreon, a crowd-funding monthly subscription service to help fund his creativity. While trying to finish up post production on a few features, Mills decided that he wanted his work to be going out to those that truly appreciate it in a method where they were able to see it first. Patreon turned out to be that platform.
Allowing him to fund a small web series where Mills reviews toys and discusses movies, but it also help fund his films. And dang, did he amp his game up on this short! Incrementally improving with each feature and short, it has been great to see him take steps forward with each project. And with DON’T ANSWER THE DOOR, he has continued that evolution in storytelling and production value.
Simple setup: 2 girls in their late teens/early twenties are hired by a bizarre acting man to house sit for one night. Only caveat is this: no visitors, and don’t answer the door. Of course, youthful rebellion kicks in as Missy wants pizza, while Stacy just wants to get through the night without her friend fucking up such a simple job. I’m sure that you can guess how this all plays out.
The man is played by Mills veteran Dave Parker and he’s at his campy best here. Evoking a slightly deranged Christopher Lee, Parker skirts the line between potential employer and freaking the girls out completely. Missy is played by Melissa Zahs (NEW BLOOD AWAKENING, BLOOD RITUAL) and she’s your typical best friend that can’t stay out of trouble. Sure, she can be a pain, but she’s a blast to have around. Stacy (Kayla Elizabeth, DESCENDING, BLOOD RITUAL) is what normally would be considered the final girl. Quiet and, for the moment, virtuous, she’s our portal into the madness. She’s the unlucky one that keeps one foot anchored in the real world while the other dangles precariously over the edge of hell.
The 4th character doesn’t have a name, as it is the house itself. Massive, old, but in good repair, you can’t help but feel that the wooden floors have absorbed so many secrets along the years. This in conjunction with a strong cinematography throughout ups the production value tenfold. And bolstered with a synthy score, it feels like we are encountering yet another pocket of the Upside Down.
Considering both girls are in Mills’ film BLOOD RITUAL alongside Al Rios-Hannon (NIGHTFALL, HUMAN NATURE)whom they have worked with numerous times, I’m assuming that we’ll be seeing more collaborations in the near future. But to truly be involved with that and to see it first, be sure to check out the Patreon for Dustin Mills.