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