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Max: A Cautionary Tale (2003)

After moving house with his estranged family, troubled teen Damien Wilson becomes convinced there is something lurking at the end of the corridor. After people begin to mysteriously vanish,... See full summary »

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3 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Purdy Buckle ...
Monique Wilson
...
Deborah
Robert Edwards ...
Spiller
Rinske Ginsberg ...
Bertha
Diana Greentree ...
Mrs. Wilson
Tristan Hamilton ...
Theo
David Murray ...
Mr. Wilson
Damian Neate ...
MAX / Danny
Wendy Rule ...
Ms. Sprinkler
Geoff Smith ...
Damien Wilson
Paul Stephenson ...
Passing Geek
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Storyline

After moving house with his estranged family, troubled teen Damien Wilson becomes convinced there is something lurking at the end of the corridor. After people begin to mysteriously vanish, he teams up with 2 friends from high school to discover what is hiding inside his house. Written by Nicholas Verso

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There is something in my house

Genres:

Short | Horror | Thriller

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4 June 2004 (USA)  »

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Trivia

The film was originally called "Max". The title was extended to avoid confusion with the John Cusack film of the same name, which was screening at the time of its first release. See more »

Quotes

Deborah: "I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public. And far be it from me to take that away from you. But would you mind doing it somewhere else? You're putting me off my lunch".
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User Reviews

 
Funny, creepy, amazing. (minor spoilers)
1 November 2003 | by (Melbourne) – See all my reviews

When I saw this film, the director presented it with the comment that he wanted to put "the cast of the Breakfast Club into Nightmare on Elm Street 2". I don't whether he succeeded in that specific aim, but by mixing the teen comedy and horror genres, Verso has definitely broken new ground for the cliches of both.

This is no Scream, here, MAX is a genuinely creepy psychological horror that keeps the audience guessing right up the very end whether the demonic presence stalking Damien through his own house is a real threat or the paranoid delusions of a mentally disturbed young man. Minimalist lighting and creative camera/editing work keep the audience constantly on edge. Even when we know what coming, there is still something horrific about waiting for it get there. The scene with the washing machine would have to be one of the tensest I've seen in a long time.

But the horror in MAX is hardly the point of the film, instead it serves as a rather elegant allegory for the rite of passage being undergone by the hero Damien as he tries to learn to face his own inner demons whilst battling the more immediate ones that are after him. The film's central message seems to be an argument against repression - MAX is given life by Damien's inability to face an increasingly stressful and expectant world.

Given that none of the performers in this film are paid professionals, it's amazing the quality of performance coming from some of them. In particular, Amber Clayton as the aggressive, misunderstood not-quite-love-interest Deborah and Purdy Buckle as Damien's malignant and maligned older sister Monique are amazing as they somehow manage to present fully realised characters in the midst of a deliberately fragmentary narrative.

But I think the real reason I enjoyed MAX as much as I did was when I realised how much had been done with so little money. The entire film is meant to have been done with a $3,000 budget and still comes across as something much better than anything likely to be found in your local video store. I hope next time round, Verso is given a much bigger budget to play with, because the result could be amazing.


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