Short films only have a few minutes to tell a specific story. When it comes to horror shorts, that time also must be used well in order to scare the intended audience. If one or the other isn’t seen to properly, you could be left with a short that makes no sense. Why is anything happening? What is happening? So little time, yet just enough to screw up the whole thing.
The horror short “The Maiden”, has a very specific look and feel and doesn’t waste a single moment of its precious few minutes to scare you.
The short stars Alia Raelynn (“Newark Ave.”, “Star Seed”), Penny Orloff (“Mercy for Angels”, “Storytellers”), Brian Knudson (“Staying Afloat (Short 2015)”, “Blood Relatives”), Sunnie Pelant (“Bones”, “Ladies Like Us”), and Betsy Sligh (upcoming “Bad Apple”, “Catch Me If You Can (Short 2015)”).
The short was written and directed by Michael Chaves (“Chase Champion”, “Regen (Short 2010)”).
The short debuted on April 18, 2016.
Every now and then I’m fortunate to stumble upon a short film that’s just amazing! For those of you who don’t know or aren’t keeping track, I haven’t seen that many short films, so it’s difficult to compare the experiences. This one, like so many others, I wasn’t even looking for. Bloody Disgusting published a piece about this short, which I either ignored for almost two weeks or just didn’t see until a few days ago, but enjoyed none the less. I’m once again fortunate for some news outlet exposing me to something that should be seen by as many people as possible. And now that I have, I’m reminded once again what short films are capable of. Also, according to Bloody Disgusting, this film is getting the feature film treatment, so there’s that to be excited about or dread, as it could easily end up sucking. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
One of the things I absolutely love about this short is the cinematography. Tristan Nyby (“Chase Champion”, “Massacre Lake (Short 2014)”), did an excellent job! He utilized the bits of the house we saw well. It’s clearly such a big house, with many hallways, doors, and corners for anything to be lurking. At any moment something could be somewhere, and you’ll never fully know it. Or, you could just end up scaring yourself thinking there is. This was clearly on display and helped to build some fear into the story and viewing experience. The next thing I loved, is that the film, according to a statement published in the Bloody Disgusting piece, used natural light. I just love that idea, and with the house being as big as it is, and for the opportunities of natural shadows and light to add an effect, it makes for an even creepier and more atmospheric film. I’m really hoping they didn’t rely too much on other light sources, it may shatter the illusion for me. Regardless, you’ll never really notice, and if you get sucked in, these elements alone will help scare you.
The rest of what will scare, or at the least creep you out a lot, is due to the fact that it’s creepy!! Thank you, Nyby, but it’s also just the story. This short actually had me a bit scared. I’m also going to forever have a problem with mop buckets full of water. Because there wasn’t enough to be afraid of, what’s one more? The short starts quickly, which itself is a little bit surprising, but as it goes along for the first minute or so, you see why and due to the effectiveness of Nyby and Chaves (his creativity), you get sucked in. I couldn’t stop watching, and when my browser decided to be stupid about halfway through, I was extremely upset. I have a deep hatred of technology. Anyway. It’s the suspense and the way that was built up which drags you along. This execution also helps make this short stand out as not many feature length horror films can come together like this short.
I also want to credit one thing, which I’m so thankful to Chaves for working hard to avoid. Jump scares. I don’t feel like there were jump scares. I mean, there was at least one, but it wasn’t at all like we traditionally see. There was also so much built up and this suspense kind of got under your skin a bit, and allowed for this scare to work. And this in turn, allowed for the entire short to work and be effective as a horror short.
There’s something about the story that I’m just amazed by. I’m amazed at how this was executed without much dialogue. As an audience member, you really have to work hard to figure it out. It’s not overly complicated, but you must be an active viewer. I feel a lot of this is due to the way that it was written. You learned so much, and none of it was conveyed verbally. If you weren’t paying attention, you’d miss it and be confused. I was paying attention, and I had to think for a moment and piece some of the story together afterwards. When it finally dawned on me, when I was reviewing what I thought and wrote down, I just marveled at the brilliance from Chaves. Quite clever and shows how capable he is. It certainly makes me want to know more, as I feel Chaves left it a bit open ended. If this short ever appears as a feature length film, which I hope it does, I’m hoping the writer, even if it’s Chaves, comes up with a good backstory, which provides answers, and executes it well so it doesn’t come off as forced or something worse. So many horror films fail at this and it dooms the who film.
I’m still exploring the genre that is short films. Every year I hear about them, but it’s not so easy to find them and watch them and love or hate them. I really gotta look into how people find and watch short films. With another good short film under my belt, I think I’m finally coming around, like completely. Merely stumbling upon news about a short film is eventually not gonna cut it. I’m going to need a full fledged source for them, something like a database. There’s got to be an easier way than by accident. This could take some time. Best to check back with me later.
Check it out! Hopefully it’s up for many years to come!