Half-Cocked (2019) Short Film Review


by Sam Kolesnik


It’s a rare and refreshing find to discover a short horror comedy which neither banks on shock value nor stoops to bathroom humor. Written and directed by Aaron Barrocas, Half-Cocked rises high above the crop with a script that’s both smart and comedic. 

Dr. Grant Kirby (Pat Healy), together with colleague Dr. Gabriella Flores (Vanessa Benavente), conduct a sketchy science experiment involving resurrecting a cadaver. Shenanigans ensue when things don’t go quite as planned with their experiment’s subject, Rudy Collins (Lundon Boyd). You could say the experiment is a bit… half-cocked, even. 

The cast has tremendous chemistry. Healy and Benavente both exercise sharp comedic timing with their characters’ witty banter. It’s Healy who ultimately steals the show. There’s a palpable charisma to Healy’s performance that draws us into Half-Cocked’s weird (but fun) world and makes us want to stick around awhile. He’s a natural at solidifying the film’s quirky tone and he lends engaging delivery to what’s an often-hammed-up role of “mad scientist”.  

Lundon Boyd also brings lots of laughs as the human guinea pig, Rudy Collins. His performance is both understated and sympathetic as an ‘everyday Joe’ type facing extraordinary circumstances. 

Half-Cocked is produced by Launch Over Productions, which is comprised of artists Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein. Both producers have fun cameos and serve other instrumental creative roles, including but not limited to cinematography (Cacciola) and sound mixing (Epstein). Whenever a film has Launch Over Productions associated with it, there’s one other name that’s often spotted -- and that’s Catherine Capozzi. Capozzi is an award-winning composer and Launch Over’s frequent collaborator. Her score for Half-Cocked is lighthearted with a bit of whimsy and is a fitting complement to the witty comedy.

The film also contains a cameo by Rakefet Abergel as “Jax” from her multi-award-winning film, Jax in Love, which swept through the horror film fest circuit last year. Abergel’s appearance is a fun addition to an already highly entertaining film and points to careful, detailed planning on the part of Barrocas and Launch Over Productions. It’s a great wink at the horror audience who frequently attends film festivals. It’s also a memorable character crossover not often seen in short films. 

Half-Cocked is a clever horror comedy with a strong cast and a stellar team behind the scenes. It makes a striking case in favor of future collaborations between Aaron Barrocas and Launch Over Productions — oh, and for Pat Healy being cast in everything ASAP. Half-Cocked is sure to be an audience favorite at this year’s horror film festivals. 

Half-Cocked is currently playing at film festivals worldwide. Follow Half-Cocked’s Facebook page for screening updates.