Short films are tough to get right, or so my experience with them would suggest. While my exposure to the short film medium is still very limited, most of the one’s I’ve seen have managed to work best when absolute control is had. When the creators know exactly what they want and don’t get carried away with too much extra anything. Perhaps I’ve just been fortunate in which shorts I’ve watched. Or, there just aren’t that many bad one’s to watch.
The horror short “The Moonlight Man” while not wholly original except in creature creation, still manages to achieve its desired effect. Make you afraid of the dark and the shadows that exist because of light. Even with this particular short, clocking in at under three minutes, there’s something to love about what was created. Perhaps it could even inspire others on how best to approach a horror short.
Darkness Be Damned
So, up until a moment ago, I was about to comment on how this short is yet another one featuring a creature that appears in the dark. That’s not quite true. He clearly has no qualms with light, and in some ways, is even more dangerous because of this. He still uses the dark, I’m guessing, to move around, but as he can and does appear in light (see above) there’s a bit more to fear.
Which is where this film actually excels. Yes, even after what I said above, the Moonlight Man still takes on some of the qualities of the entities we’ve seen in the past few years, be it in shorts or feature length films. Such entities include, but are not limited to, Mister Babadook (in some small ways), Diana from “Lights Out” (both the short and feature film), Mama from “Mama”, the Tooth Fairy creatures from “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”, and the other Tooth Fairy from “Darkness Falls”. Yes, for that last one I actually had to stretch all the way back to 2003. As it turns out, my knowledge of creatures that fear the light and only appear in the dark is a bit more limited than I imagined. Regardless, this film still seems to owe to this slight trend, and at the least, can consider itself something of a cousin to these others.
But still, even with that knowledge, if you can get into the right mindset, for about three minutes, you may once again discover why the darkness will always be something worth fearing. I certainly did. That being said, I feel I must warn, like with other good or great horror films, the second time around is not as good. Tread cautiously.
For those who find success the first time around, fear is built slowly. That’s a huge plus. In this case, it’s more about the creative ways in which writer and director Danny Donahue executed everything. It’s not just the creature that screams familiar. Because of this, things had to be different, including the sole character. Casey Fichtner does a good job at bringing this fear to life. However, what should be a simple walk to her car, is anything but. Fortunately, which is another perk, she’s smarter than most characters in this type of situation. But the Moonlight Man won’t let her be.
And so, you have a short that’s worth watching at least once, to see if it can scare you in any capacity. Even if you’re not totally scared, of which I wasn’t, hopefully the execution can elicit fear of some sort and have you unnerved by films end. Once more, I’m amazed by what can be achieved in a few minutes time. Now I suddenly have the urge to check out as many horror shorts as I can.
What says you about this horror short? Did the fear build in any significant way? Were you scared at all? Will you want to go to your car alone now?
Originally Release Date: Oct. 25, 2016
Written and Directed: Danny Donahue
Starring: Casey Fichtner and Philip Kreyche