The Movie Waffler Shorts Showcase - <i>TAILYPO</i> | The Movie Waffler

Shorts Showcase - TAILYPO

Director Cameron McCasland brings an Appalachian folk tale to life.

Review by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)

Unlike cats, whom the genre usually depicts as duplicitous avatars of the evil uncanny, dogs are given a pretty fair shake in horror films. Favourites include Nanook in The Lost Boys and ladder climbing Pete from The Monster Squad, incredibly brave little boys who fight the good fight alongside their plucky teen owners. Then there’s the poor, doomed canines of The Thing, The Hounds of the Baskervilles, Luck Mckee’s Red; all too innocent victims of evils beyond the ken of their helpless doggy trust and kindness (Cujo is the exception that proves the rule - the reason why that film still shocks and upsets is because no one expects man’s best friend to go tonto. If Cujo had been feline, we would have just shrugged with a seen-it-all-before acceptance*). The dog in Tailypo, Cameron McCasland’s entertaining horror short, is a gorgeous Staff cross, a noble beast with a pelt the hue of burnt honey interspersed with chocolate tiger swirls, and a can-do attitude that runs just as deep. Jasper (played by Ranger) and his owner Levon (David Chattam) eke out a meagre existence in the backwaters, spending their days hunting the unforgiving woods in vain, and the evenings suffering the corrosive effects of beans they’ve been forced to eat in lieu of a decent meal. As Levon laments, ‘I ain’t seen no deer, no goats, not even a little biddy squirrel. I ain’t seen nothing for weeks now…’ Where could the forestry’s wildlife have disappeared to? And what’s that strange whispering that seems to follow the pair at day, and haunt their shack at night? Could it have something to do with a meaty animal tail of unknown providence that man and dog discovered in the woods and subsequently ate?
Based on the eponymous Appalachian folk mythology, Tailypo is great fun. The suspense of this short film smoulders keenly like the embers of Levone’s campfire, while the dialogue has a playful authenticity that makes the unpleasantness of the final moments (all the more awful for being unseen, playing off a reaction to the terrible off-screen sounds of ripping and chewing) all the more shocking. The performances from both man and beast are strong, and the cinematography sharp and atmospheric. A well shot treat, Tailypo gets a pat on the head from this reviewer.
* I write this as someone who lives in a house with three cats, by the way. I love them dearly, but I am also wise enough to never underestimate their spooky abilities.

Tailypo is currently free to view online at and will be screening at film festivals around the globe this year.