The Item


Bottom 20% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

1999 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Dramatic Competition


Dawn Marie Valesquez, Dan Clark, Dave Pressler, Dan Lake, Ron Fitzgerald, Judy Kwon

Non-Cast Credits

Dan Clark, Don Asher, Michael Mayhew, Kristina Alg


The most interesting films are those that bend a classic genre. Twisting several genres in all directions at once, The Item is a hybrid psychological thriller cum horror film cum sci-fi camp extravaganza.

Four felons are guaranteed a bundle of money just to baby-sit/guard a high-tech box until delivery the next morning. In this box is something very bizarre. This thing�this "item" which resembles a forty-pound worm�looks harmless when harnessed into its container, but it possesses the peculiar power to look into hearts and harvest truth. It exploits its victims' every repressed weirdness and lurking subconscious fear to its own advantage. With the clock ticking and tension rising and way-too-many loaded guns in the room, this get-rich-quick scheme turns into an adolescent fantasy of bloody mayhem and murder.

Where Hollywood has gone astray spending millions to make a monster look "real," this modestly budgeted film becomes vibrant through its writing and style. The item may be smaller than Godzllla, but it is much more complex and horrifying. Director Dan Clark takes delight in the details, both physical and mental, of this motley group of degenerates. When blood flows, which it does often, it splatters the wall in gallons.

Shot in digital beta format, The Item is a striking example of the possibilities of this new medium in the hands of good actors and a creative storyteller. Whether perceived as a dark fable or greed-driven morality tale, the filmmaker's own description may be the best: "The Item is a modern art-exploitation film."


John Cooper (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.