Keepsake! is a 2019 American gore horror short, written and directed by Nathan Hine. The short was produced by Hardgore Core Productions, known for their low-budget splatter productions such as The Last Days of Livermore (2018) as well as their video reviews of notorious entries to extreme cinema via their YouTube channel.

When a man goes to his favourite bar, he believes he has struck it lucky as he leaves with an attractive young lady. Little does he know, the dilapidated house she has escorted him back to holds several close secrets he wishes were never revealed to him.

The Crimson Fuelled Climax

The film’s story is a little thin on premise, only here to serve as a vector to deliver the gore-filled second act of this 25-minute short. Consequently, this isn’t a negative drawback, as, let’s face it, that’s why we’re here. The special effects are fairly comprehensive for the short’s tiny budget of just under $4000, featuring realistic prostheses with natural movement for dismembered limbs as well as litres of fake blood that hit the right colour and consistency. Undoubtedly, it is a palette cleanser to witness a role reversal to the normal formula, the usual violence against women flipped and instead exhibiting a female embracing the role of aggressor who brings about the visceral conclusion.

Although the story displays little imagination, Keepsake! features a number of cinematic visuals unique in the genre. A combination of beautiful establishing shots interspersed between an innovative implementation of atypical angles and panning shots, which skilfully strengthens the creative aspects of the projects. However, there is still an independent feel to this cinematography, with noticeable hard cuts on second-take camera pans in addition to a number of shaky, handheld shots, suggesting a learning experience for the crew involved.

Nevertheless, Keepsake!’s score elevates both the framing device and grisly violence. Defining the mood of each scene comfortably, the soundtrack eases the growing tension up to the short’s bloody climax, effectively delivering a sense of impact to the gruesome display.

Keepsake! is available to purchase on a special edition Blu-ray on the Darkstar Films website here. This release comes with a special collectors card as well as Italian and French subtitles.

Darkstar release of Keepsake! (2019)

Though featuring readily seen flaws, Keepsake! is an entertaining piece of independent extreme cinema, but I understand this type of cinema isn’t for everybody. Hardgore Core Productions’ passion for these visceral shorts is obvious through their bountiful catalogue of productions. With no signs of stopping anytime soon, I look forward to seeing more from the indie company and the writing/directing skills of Nathan Hine.

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