Short Film Review: LION

Film Review by Lionel Ray Green

Horror short film Lion is a powerful condemnation of domestic violence against children packaged as an atmospheric nightmare.

LION - Official Poster

Released in 2017 and written and directed by Davide Melini, Lion is touted as the most honored horror short film in history with more than 260 awards, according to the director’s IMDb biography.

Lion is set inside an isolated chalet during a heavy snowfall in a dark forest. A family of three lives in the chalet. The scene is simple. An angry, alcoholic father drinks and channel-flips the television. A helpless mother lingers in the gloomy shadows of the kitchen. Their eight-year-old child, bearing a nasty facial bruise, sleeps in a bedroom, its walls adorned with posters of lions.

The child clings to a stuffed lion and prays unconsciously, “Help me. Don’t let them hit me again.”

When the father wakes up from his drunken stupor, the television is on a nature channel showing lions in the wild. The father clicks the remote control, but the channel doesn’t change. The parents are about to receive a dose of reality TV.

While Lion is a pure message movie about the deadly consequences of domestic violence against children, Melini still manages to deliver an effective horror short, packing a feature film’s worth of suspense and tension into his twelve-minute nightmare.

Short Film Review: THE LAST SHOWING

Alone in the Dark Films presents THE LAST SHOWING, a 2018 horror short by writer/director Anthony DeRouen. Running time: 9 minutes, 45 seconds.

THE PLOT

A couple of movie theater employees are terrorized by an apparition after closing time.

THE PLAYERS

The cast features Lara Jean Mummert as Mary, Joseph Camilleri as Michael, and Max Troia as Steven.

THE REVIEW

THE LAST SHOWING opens with the final moviegoers of the night exiting the theater as employee Mary lets them out and locks the door. Mary and Steven are the only two employees left in the theater, and Steven agrees to finish up cleaning while Mary steps off stage to take a nap.

Steven hears a noise and finds a creepy stranger watching a torture film on the screen. When the stranger disappears suddenly, Steven radios Mary to tell her a stranger’s in the theater but assures her he can handle the problem.

The lights wink out, and Steven finds himself handling the problem in the dark with only a flashlight. Where’s the strange man? Steven initially searches the theater with a confidence belying the situation, but it only takes one more encounter for Steven to realize the stranger is not what he appears.

The second half of the story shifts to Mary after she wakes from her nap. The lights are off, and Steven is radio silent. It’s her turn to investigate, but what will she find?

I liked THE LAST SHOWING. Camilleri portrays the creepy stranger quite effectively, and DeRouen uses the empty theater to his advantage, alternating the eerie silence of the setting with the eerier music by Luigi Jannsen.

Check out  Derouen on Vimeo here.

AFTER THE CREDITS: Robert Englund of Freddy Krueger fame starred in a 2014 film titled THE LAST SHOWING.

 

Short Film Review: HE TAKES AND RETURNS

Alone in the Dark Films presents HE TAKES AND RETURNS, a 2018 horror short by writer/director Anthony DeRouen. Running time: 11 minutes.

THE PLOT

A family is terrorized by an intruder the night before its trip to Yosemite National Park.

THE PLAYERS

The cast features Joseph Camilleri as John, Nadia Latifi as Chrissy, Jeanne Young as Helen, and Germaine Gaudet as Kathy.

THE REVIEW

HE TAKES AND RETURNS is classic horror in the vein of HALLOWEEN. Like that seminal film, HE TAKES AND RETURNS portrays average suburbanites inside a normal home within a typical neighborhood and unleashes the horror on them.

DeRouen effectively sets the table, opening with dad John, mom Helen, daughter Chrissy, and family friend Kathy engaged in an intense game of Jenga before going to bed early in preparation for the Yosemite trip.

When Chrissy’s first scream shatters the night, John does what fathers do. He investigates his daughter’s bedroom and calms her rattled nerves.

After the second scream, John repeats the pattern but adds a look outside. However, this time, a strange mark appears on Chrissy’s doll, and the parents allude to a previous intruder incident during a private conversation in the kitchen.

The third scream’s the charm as fear officially escalates to crisis, and John and Helen realize the intruder isn’t in their daughter’s imagination.

DeRouen obviously knows horror, skillfully using shadows and suspense to chilling effect. The music by Michael Rodriguez is a strength of the short, perfectly capturing the building tension.

I enjoyed HE TAKES AND RETURNS. It’s a slice of old-school filmmaking with no special effects. It’s straight horror, no chaser, and scary enough for this Horror Addict to check out more shorts by DeRouen.

Check out the teaser on YouTube for HE TAKES AND RETURNS below.