Mojave Junction (short) Review

Since starting the website this is the best part of it, being given the chance to review something that’s not yet released that’s been made by a group of people who simply want to make a movie. I’ve never reviewed a short film before so go easy on me!

“Within the 12 minutes or so is a beginning, a middle and an end all helping to build a very entertaining short.”

A Fistful of Dollars in The Twilight Zone. The Good, The Bad and Cthulhu. Set in 1899 in the sun baked desolation of the high desert, Mojave Junction is a supernatural western telling the story of McTeague (Race Owen), a scoundrel who absconds with a treasure of stolen gold only to be tracked down by Marcus (Ed Marinaro), a wiry ‘ole prospector whose impulsiveness far out weighs his intelligence. Watch from the edge of your seat as these rock-ribbed adversaries clash in an escalating battle of wills, and recoil in horror as something sinister lurking among the dunes renders a final judgment on their greed.
I didn’t know what to expect when I about to start watching this, several questions immediately sprang to mind, would it be filmed well? How would the acting be? If there’s effects would they be any good? Can the director get across his vision in a 12 minute film? Would it leave me wishing there was more?
The realisation that you’re trapped in the middle of the desert 100 miles from any water must be devastating!
The answer to all these is a most definite yes. The movie start with McTeague (Race Owen, who also doubles as a producer) walking with his horse in the empty desolate desert. He’s soon approached from behind by Marcus (Ed Marinaro Hill Street Blues, Sisters and Blue Mountain State) This is where we learn of a quarrel between the two that saw McTeague steal gold from Marcus and try to escape.
The two men attempt to work together to get provisions from McTeague’s horse, this is where some unexpected humour is put into the short film. Obviously this goes wrong leaving both men stranded in the desert 100 miles from any water source, after a brief scuffle the men realise they are trapped together. Unknown to them something else also lurks in the darkness with them in mind.
It’s easy to see why so many people have a fascination with the beautiful emptiness of the desert
Director Statement
 Mojave Junction is the meeting of three passions: cinema, supernatural fiction and the Mojave. In the winter of 2013, I was sketching ideas for a short film in the style of H.P. Lovecraft’s supernatural “weird” fiction. During this time, I read an excerpt from the novel “McTeague” (1899) by Frank Norris, now in the public domain, re-published in a collection of Mojave desert stories I discovered while on a trip to Joshua Tree National Park. I was inspired to merge Lovecraftian supernatural fiction with a western to create a “Weird Western” exploring the concept of greed.
I noticed a parallel between Norris’ treatment of selfishness and the catastrophic banking villainies that rocked the world in 2008, so I felt strongly the story would be relevant to 21st Century audiences. Coincidentally, Erich von Stroheim adapted the novel in full in 1924 right before another monumental implosion of avarice and called it, appropriately, “Greed” (his legendary 42-reel director’s cut is now considered by many to be the Holy Grail of lost films). Around the same time, I was developing a feature film set in Joshua Tree and the Greater Mojave that included Lovecraftian concepts. I decided to merge elements of that project and Norris’ novel to create a showcase film that would serve as a preview or short prequel to the feature.
The final element was our setting. When exploring the Mojave, you can encounter a powerful rejuvenating feeling that I call the “Magic of the Mojave.” For those who’ve experienced it, they know the Desert’s vast, barren cruelty is matched only by its magnetic and epic beauty. As the Mojave served as setting for both my feature film script and the dramatic ending of Norris’ novel, it was a natural choice for the setting of the short film. I took all these ideas and put them in my creative blender. The result is “Mojave Junction.” I hope audiences will enjoy it and feel compelled to explore further the treasures of Lovecraftian fiction and the Mojave Desert, as well as spend some time meditating on examples of greed in the 21st Century.
Christian Jean
Director, Mojave Junction
I found this a very enjoyable watch and it will soon be available on ShortsHD as the team await confirmation from them. It’s really worth watching and as I mentioned earlier the acting is great, it looks fantastic and it did indeed leave me wishing it was a feature film. With just two characters it has a real feel of being the beginning of something bigger, however that’s not to say it doesn’t serve it’s purpose as short. Within the 12 minutes or so is a beginning, a middle and an end all helping to build a very entertaining short.
Overall Score

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