Empire of Dirt 2017
Sid goes on a revenge-fueled rampage through a Manilla brothel in 1997, spurred onward by an undead manifestation. The mission forces him into unwilling servitude when he crosses paths with otherworldly entities from “The Place Between Places”.
Adam Mason and Paul Sloan
Mark Steger, Lillian Solange, and V Nixie
In 2010, filmmaker Adam Mason unleashed the unholy abomination Pig on an unsuspecting festival circuit; the film’s about “a demented psychopath and his mentally handicapped companion [who] torture and kill a collection of captives on an isolated ranch”. Originally released online for free, the film achieved such condemnation for its boundary-bursting depravity, it’s gone underground, since gaining near urban legend status. Apparently, only one copy of the film remains in existence, and Mason would destroy it—if he thought anyone cared; he’s even stated, “I wish I hadn’t made it.” (Source)
While I haven’t seen Pig for myself, I’m happy to say Mason’s latest offering is nothing of the sort; the short film Empire of Dirt is a potent mix of procedural crime thriller, revenge horror, and Lovecraftian nightmares. Like the best short film, Empire of Dirt begs for continuation; it could either be the first chapter in an unfolding saga or proof-of concept any horror-positive production company would be honored to make.
Synopsis: Sid goes on a revenge-fueled rampage through a Manilla brothel in 1997, spurred onward by an undead manifestation. The mission forces him into unwilling servitude when he crosses paths with otherworldly entities from “The Place Between Places”.
Mason wrote and directed the film with Paul Sloan; it features Mark Steger, Lillian Solange, and V Nixie.
While Empire of Dirt isn’t available to see online at this time, nor is it slated for festival screening at the time of printing, horror fans should definitely keep their eyes peeled for it. It’ll resonate with fans of Hellraiser and 2017’s The Void, as well as fans of hardcore gangster violence in the vein of The Raid and Old Boy. The otherworldly Master is instantly iconic (as is his twisted-nymph sidekick); he’s played by body actor Steger, who you may know as the Demogorgon from Stranger Things and/or the Jesus Bunny from the Easter segment of the horror anthology Holidays.
Bottom Line: Adam Mason and crew pack worlds of potential mythology into 8 minutes that will leave you hoping for more—much more. Everything is top notch; the production is indistinguishable for a major studio release. Empire of Dirt pulls disparate horror tropes into a uniquely unified nightmare aimed at aficionados who like their horror with a hard R.