Sunday Sesh: Mystery Horror Theater Returns
Halloween is only 9 days away, so if you’re anything like me, you’ve been trying to cram as many horror movies and thrillers into your brainhole as humanly possible. And if you’re not anything like me, you probably have major character flaws. This Sunday Sesh is for both of you, because I’m going to cram even more horror into your open skull-o-lanterns until the gory bits spill forth like pumpkin spice Bit o’ Honeys!
Today I have three short horror films for your deviant pleasure. Let’s get right to it!
Don’t Look Away
Few things can hamstring horror films like excessive exposition. Too many horror flicks today (and films in general, and trailers especially, if we’re being honest) are too content to tell rather than show. Thankfully, Christopher Cox’s spooky eight-minute thriller, Don’t Look Away is very light on the why and heavy on the wtf. The premise is simple: a teen girl notices a creepy man in her yard just as her father calls her; after she describes the man to her father, he urges her that she must not look away. Although we’re given a bit of insight on the mechanism of the entity in the film, or at least a sliver of a why, Cox makes zero attempt to tell us what the creature is, what it’s after, and why this particular family, and the short is all the better for it. This film is light on violence and jump scares, but the questions it raises are worth the price of admission. Cox does well to simply leave you guessing.
Although it clocks in at about the same length as Don’t Look Away, the Al-Safar Bros’ The Jigsaw plays with a much higher production value. The filming and music all work to create a mournful, longing atmosphere, and it is that tone that delivers the wonderful punch at the end of the film. Ostensibly, The Jigsaw plays with a similar theme to Beyond the Gates. There’s a mysterious game sold by an unsettling toy store owner, and the character’s obsession to complete the game ultimately drives the plot to its conclusion. Unlike IFC’s big-budget stinker, however, The Jigsaw plays on an entirely different emotional spectrum. Its protagonist is little more than a sad old widower, frittering away his hours with trivial activity to stave off the loneliness consuming his heart. All this the film conveys without saying a single word, and when the surprise ending hits, the film’s emotional impact leaves us all the more cold.
Of the three films I’ve collected today, Moore, Wynn, and McKissack’s The Passing is easily the most stereotypical. That said, the short does so many things right that I couldn’t not include it. The setting, a creaky old wooden house at night, is perfect for the duration. The acting too is better than you typically find trawling through short films on YouTube. And while the climax isn’t exactly unexpected, there’s a nice twist in the middle that works well. Wynn smartly knows what to show and not show to build tension, and it all pays off in this haunted house story of demonic possession and murdered children.
Seen any horror flicks you like? Binging stuff on Netflix? Wish I’d chosen some more graphic cuts? Sound off in the comments below.