“Have you ever listened to the sound that a tangerine makes when you peel it?”

Is the sound of peeling a tangerine like the sound of peeling flesh from a body? Does the fascia beneath release its dermal layer, as a fruity metaphor, resisting hopelessly, succumbing soon enough?  Do smells of sanguine citrus spray and fill the air, as nerves and blood vessels stretch and separate?  What mind smells such fragrance, sees such similes, all with the sounds of suffering?  What movie brings such horror to poetry, with brevity that fuels the fear?

Those questions are answered in PEEL, the latest short film from writer, director, and producer Zena S. Dixon.  Dixon, best known for her awesome movie reviews, articles and interviews (on her website, makes a big debut with a short but complex film.  In less than three minutes, viewers feel the impact of a much longer film, and true to Zena’s words, “Long lives horror!”

Could it be so simple and healthy? Of course not! This is horror!

Oh, and what is the mind that turns fruit-fetish fantasies to flesh-flaying horror?  Perhaps it’s the mind of the film’s main character, portrayed with style and eerie calm by Federico Dixon (the real-life husband of director Zena S. Dixon).  Federico portrays a character we think we know, but we don’t.  He’s the well-dressed man, well spoken, savoring his every word, using tone and movement to deceive if not misdirect our perceptions.  He’s the man we trust completely, before we know better, before it’s too late.  We listen to him, knowing all the while that something is more visceral and terrifying than his metaphors imply.  Is he talking to us or someone else…or both?  Regardless, Federico Dixon makes a debut with the force of a seasoned actor, delivering just the performance necessary to make PEEL cut deeply in the short-horror genre, with feature-length force!

“It sort of sounds like…human flesh.”

In many ways, a short film has a bigger job to do than a film of feature length.  It must do, in minutes, what a longer film has 90 minutes or hours to do.  It must grab us quickly, with something, hang on, and if it is successful, make us want more in the end.  At the least, it is a calling card for what a director can do, showcasing talents; at most, it is a short that can become a feature.  Does Dixon produce both with PEEL?  Absolutely!

Federico Dixon is the sinister but stylish peeler, with tangerine dreams to scare the devil.

Zena S. Dixon’s use of the camera is exactly what achieves success.  Dixon not only focuses our attention with the camera; she uses it to direct our thinking and shape our fears.  A closeup of a tangerine on a table is persistent and focused, directing the viewer immediately to the movie’s metaphor, overtly harmless but surely ominous.  The sound of a peeling tangerine, so subtle in life, here becomes horror well heard.  A knife, placed carefully, points forward, sharply foreboding.  Will this knife only pierce a tangerine?  We think not.  A closeup of a high-heeled foot is intense and haunting at first, terrifying thereafter.  Yes!  Here, tangerine metaphors are juicy morsels for the mind and the aftertaste is bloody!  How succulent is the sweetness of our fears!  With the direction of Zena S. Dixon, the taste of horror is delicious!

Is there something terrifying and telling about that knife, so carefully placed? We think so!

Yes!  Director Zena S. Dixon makes an appearance (at least a part of her does), and her trade-mark fashionista heels make it a welcome cameo!  Indeed, she’s the perfect topping for the horror desert she serves so well!  And, like all the tastiest terrors, PEEL leaves us hungry for more!  “Bon appétit,” says Zena, no doubt.  To Zena we say, “Encore!”

“PEEL gives us tangerines as fruits of fear, with a metaphor equally fresh!” ~ Chris Rennirt

PEEL–the killer horror short from Zena S. Dixon (complete with original music by Zena herself) is currently available only for select screenings!  But, we’re sure it will be available to all soon enough.  Stay tuned to SJR for all the latest!  Also, be sure to check out Zena’s Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as her website.  Links to all are listed below!

Don’t miss the interview with Zena on Space Jockey Reviews!

Follow Zena S. Dixon on Twitter!

“Like” Real Queen of Horror on Facebook!

Also check out Zena on her website at!

Rocket Rating – 10

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