FILM REVIEW – ‘UNCLE OTTO’S TRUCK’ (2019)

Currently touring the film festival circuit is Uncle Otto’s Truck, the short film adaptation of the eponymous short story by legendary horror writer Stephen King. Adapted for the screen and directed by Dan Sellers and produced by Sammie Cassell, the film saw its world premiere at the 2019 Wreak Havoc Horror Film Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina. Nerd Nation Magazine was in attendance for the premiere, courtesy of Wreak Havoc Productions and RED Cinemas.

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(image courtesy of Wreak Havoc Productions)

Originally published in 1983 in Yankee Magazine and famously collected in 1985’s Skeleton Crew, Uncle Otto’s Truck has long been one of King‘s most popular short stories, gaining quite a cult following among his readers. It tells the story of Otto Schenck (played by Michael Burke of The Haunting of Four Points and Our War) a wealthy businessman in Castle Rock, ME during the post-depression era, who following the sudden death of his business partner George McCutcheon (played by Tom Gore of The Last Airbnb and Blood of the Mummy) becomes a recluse and begins to lose his sanity as he grows progressively more paranoid, convinced that the old broken down truck in the empty lot across from his house is somehow alive and intends to kill him. His young niece (played by Jennie Stencel), tends to Otto by bringing him groceries and keeping him company, while also serving as the narrator of the story. Is Otto just a sad, lonely old man losing touch with reality after the death of his friend, or is there actually something deeper to his irrational paranoia?

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(image courtesy of Wreak Havoc Productions)

This is unquestionably Sellers’ best work to date, with a terrific screenplay adaptation that stays very true to its source material and is exceptionally well paced throughout its nearly 20-minute runtime. Likewise, the camerawork and sound design are top-notch, often making one forget that this is an independent film largely made possible through crowdfunding efforts. The cast does an absolutely stellar job, each carrying their respective roles with ease, and coming off as very natural in their performances. The film is not without its flaws (as one should expect with any indie release) as the editing struggles at times, and a couple scenes feel slightly out of place and a touch overproduced. This is, however, a very minor gripe as again, the film is very well paced, and the story moves along nicely, culminating in a fantastically executed ending that will leave viewers with a lot to think about, not to mention wondering how a near 20-minute film felt like it was over so quickly – and that’s a very good thing, let me tell you.

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(image courtesy of Wreak Havoc Productions)

The Bottom Line:
Overall, Uncle Otto’s Truck is one of the better independent short films you’ll ever see and a wonderful adaptation of one of Stephen King‘s best short stories. I fully expect this one to do very well on the film festival circuit, and we can only hope that it’s able to go even farther beyond that. Do yourself a favor and if you see it on a festival lineup, go see it, you’ll be very glad you did… I know this writer was. – 8.5/10

-Dave Harlequin
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine
@NerdNationPress

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