I first encountered the short Love Letters from the Dead when I reviewed the anthology Faces Of the Dead of which it’s one of the segments. Shortly after that Chris Effan, the writer/director/star of the short reached out to ask me if I was interested in seeing the original version.
Love Letters from the Dead is a ten-minute black and white film about John (Chris Effan). A year ago he lost Mary (Maria Denis) the love of his life and he’s been despondent ever since. Visiting her grave he finds a letter in her handwriting. When he responds things become even stranger.
Chis said he understood why they re-edited Love Letters from the Dead and I can too. His cut is a dark love story, like something Edgar Allan Poe would have written. It’s sad and touching, not scary. Faces of the Dead however is a straightforward zombie horror anthology. They also could have just gotten a short that fit better to start with, but that’s another matter.
In re-editing Love Letters From the Dead what was a love story has been given an edge. The original does leave the possibility that grief has driven John mad and this is all in his mind. The re-edit tries to give you the feeling that madness is definitely involved, madness of the homicidal kind. And that if Mary is returning, it’s to seek revenge.
To that end the original ending was cut and a shot of what looks like Sadako from the Ring movies and a shot of John from earlier in the film. There were also edits to shots of the John at Mary’s grave. Although the original makes it clear she is buried in a cemetery, it still looks odd due to its location. One of the perils of low budget filmmaking.
The plan is to eventually release the original version of Love Letters from the Dead on DVD with a commentary track. For now, it’s available as an extra with Faces of the Dead on Vimeo.