Reviews of three recent shorts.
Reviews by Emily Craig
Commune is the longest of the three short films here, and it certainly does pack a punch. The story follows our main protagonist, known as “Man” (Tom Weller), who is clearly having a hard time in the film as he decides to say yes to living in an old commune filled with previous residents' eerie belongings; yes, the house is huge and creepy, but the fact that he doesn’t have to pay rent is enough to persuade the Man. Things start getting a little strange when he starts having scary dreams, which slowly turn into reality.
What I like about Commune is the realistic element to it all; the house isn’t a haunted house in the traditional sense, there are no bats flying out of corners or creepy dolls watching you. The eeriness comes from the fact that all the belongings in the house from previous owners are still there, just your normal average stuff, but the fact that it has all been left there is enough to send chills powering down anyone’s spine. The acting is very good from Weller and the film is shot impeccably; a great attempt from the director Thomas Perrett, who has for the most, only previously worked in editing.
The next film we have here is Defarious, which in some respects is very like Commune, just shorter. Again, we follow our main protagonist in a haunted house, while she has dreams that turn into a reality; even the main antagonists in both films bare a similar resemblance, which I won’t spoil the utter terror for you.
Commune is a better film all round in terms of plot and structure, but what Defarious does have on Commune is its use of sound to create a wholly terrifying atmosphere. Director Chase Michael Pallante hasn’t relied on dialogue (the odd word here and there is muttered) but instead he’s used background noises and the use of heartbeats to create a sense of dread, and this works. The film is incredibly short, but in that time, I will say I was on the edge of my seat. The only thing I would say is that I wish there was a bit more structure and character development to the film, as there isn’t much we know about our main character, so I found it hard to relate to her.
Love is Dead
The third and final short is Love is Dead, directed by horror writer Jerry Smith and starring adult film stars Joanna Angel and Aaron “Small Hands” Thompson and horror regular Ruben Pla (Insidious). This film is the odd ball in the trio – unlike the others, it’s not a horror in the traditional sense, but just because it doesn’t include any monsters does not take the horror away from this film. Love is Dead is about Peter (Thompson) who is seen visiting a therapist as he is trying to come to terms with his wife’s brutal death and the events leading up to it, which we get to see in all its glory.
Smith has said his film's story is very personal to him and is based on experience, so I think that’s incredibly brave to create something so personal, exposing yourself to the public; this also adds extra emotion to the story, which has a very raw feel. Bitter relationships do exist, and I think everybody knows at least one person who has been in one, so Love is Dead is relatable to a large audience. The small budget shows, but I love the use of the stripped-down feel of the film, quite literally as most of the film features our two main characters in their birthday suits, letting their emotions do the talking. The acting was very believable and I would say that this was my favourite out of the three films, just for originality and the emotion it conveyed.