Grimoire Vol. 1
Review by Jen Bush
Written and directed by Donovan Smith
Produced by Scott Smith and Donovan Smith
The setting is a cabin in the woods. A lone man narrates his tale as he gets ready for the showdown of a lifetime. It’s personal for him. The nameless man informs the viewer that a heinous creature came for his father 26 years ago and returned for the rest of his family seven years ago. The man has been living in solitude and hunting the creature ever since. He found an ancient magical book in the woods with instructions on how to destroy the beast.
Grimoire is an eerie atmospheric short film shot in black and white which added to the unsettling ambience. Kudos to the cinematographer for drawing the viewer into an unnerving solitary realm. The sound effects and the sterling score by Miriam Mayer made the undercurrent of terror palpable. Joe Gurmo was the leading man. He had no dialogue, but he had a huge presence and a Clint Eastwood vibe. His character was calm, cool, collected and hyper focused on his mission of vengeance and retribution. He gave a convincing portrayal of a man to be reckoned with. That creature got his family but it wasn’t going to get him! I was sure of that before the film ended.
In a horror film being alone in a cabin in the woods is an open invitation for every beastly, demonic and otherworldly creature to unleash their terror upon a victim. It’s a horror cliché that has stood the test of time including in this film. I would have preferred that the creature be a bit more clandestine and not shown so early in the film. Even if it wasn’t shown at all, the film would have still been impactful. The sketches in the magical book were enough to cause the viewer to have stirrings of fear.
Donovan Smith is the creative mind behind this film. He is a filmmaker, writer, podcast host and an accomplished mixed martial artist among other things. He was the writer, director and one of the producers on this film. His familiarity with the genre enough to translate it into his own creation is evident. This film has already won awards at festivals and will likely win more. Grimoire will grip you in the first few moments and take you on a satisfying creepy ride till its explosive conclusion.