The Horror Zine
Tribunal Still
The Horror Zine Review


A Film by Eric Ruiz

Director: Eric Ruiz
Actors: P. David Miller, Craig Stoa, Carrie Rutledge
Studio: Tribunal Pictures
Format: 16:9 - NTSC, DVD
Language: English
Release Date: TBD
Run Time: 78 min

Tribunal the Film

Tribunal Still


A Film by Eric Ruiz

Review by David M. Buhajla

I admit that I was a bit nervous to review an independent film since I have never done it before, but my fears were slapped away when I popped in the movie Tribunal into my laptop and pressed "play." I caught myself yelling and screaming at the screen as I watched. I also clenched my fist and screamed at it at the end of the movie. All of this I did with a warm and delighted feeling as I watched a movie that features severed bits, fighting, and shooting. And here is why.

The film Tribunal, a dark mystery about the brutal murders of three judges, is a great movie from up and coming filmmaker Eric Ruiz, who wrote, directed, and produced the film. The gruesome yet compelling nature of the mystery in Tribunal comes forth as the murderer inserts a rolled-up one hundred dollar bill into an orifice of the first victim. Two police detectives and a forensic pathologist, whose job it is to attempt to decipher the meaning of the killer’s personal mark, lead the investigation of the case.

The opening scene of the movie sets the tone and draws the viewer in with a spooky soundtrack and dim and shadowed lighting, giving the film a pervasive film-noir feel in parts, which adds to the suspense. This tone resonates throughout the film, even if a scene is set in an office, leaving the viewer feeling that anything can happen at any time.

The plot of Tribunal is multilayered and complex and kept me guessing all the way to the end of the movie, where it led to a "holy crap" moment. I was definitely not expecting the outcome that I had been anticipating. Viewers who love to play "whodunnit" will have fun arguing with each other about what will happen next as the movie progresses.

The lead of the movie, veteran movie and television actor P. David Miller, plays the title character Vince, a hard-drinking and troubled police detective. Miller's portrayal of Vince is the glue that binds the movie together, reminding me of Billy Bob Thornton at times with his rough demeanor and his tattoos. Furthermore, the interplay between Vince and his partner Kevin, portrayed by Craig Stoa, also becomes important to the narrative flow of the movie. Their relationship floats between a father/son and big brother/little brother relationship and becomes funny at times and strained at other times.

As Vince and Kevin deal with the murder investigations, they also have to deal with their love lives in the process. Both characters have relationship problems in the movie, which adds to the strain and pressure that they feel in the other aspects of their lives. Even though their love lives can feel as if these relationships are nothing but one-bad-thing-after-another at times, this does not veer very far away from reality.

One minor issue that I had with Tribunal was some minor technical glitches. But, these issues are minimal and have no major impact on the storyline. What the movies lacks in budgeting is made up for in excellent and complex storytelling, a solid cast (especially P. David Miller), and an eerie feel.

Director Ruiz blends a textured and complex story into a film with a dark and ominous feel. Solidified with a veteran and professional cast, Ruiz makes a film that holds the attention of the watcher throughout the entirety of the piece, and leaving the viewer with a sense of satisfaction at the end.

I believe that Eric Ruiz has a great future ahead of him as a writer, a producer, and as a director. His passion for filmmaking comes through in Tribunal. If an artist, working through any medium, can make me stare at my clenched fist and scream, then fork the sign of the Devil like Ronnie James Dio, then that artist is an artist whose career is worth following. I think that Eric Ruiz is such an artist.  

See the movie here:

About the Filmmaker

Eric Ruiz

Eric Ruiz

Eric Ruiz is a director, writer, and producer with a portfolio of film, television, and emerging media projects at various stages of development. Originally from the Bronx, NY, and raised in San Diego, CA, Eric attended the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts where he earned a BA in Film and Television Production with cum laude and Dean's List honors. Eric's first feature length film TRIBUNAL, an ultra low budget film, was completed in 2011 and has been submitted to film festivals throughout the country.  TRIBUNAL was written, produced, and directed by Eric Ruiz.

About the Reviewer

David M. Buhajla

David M. Buhajla

David M. Buhajla is a writer and poet living in Arkansas with his wife Marci and his daughter Maya. His work is available in Counterexample Poetics, Sex and Murder, Danse Macabre, Rose and Thorn Journal, The Horror Zine, The Gloaming Magazine, and the Winter Canons anthology published by Midwest Literary Magazine. He teaches writing at Arkansas Tech University.