Short Film Reviews: Lone & The First Step.

Lone. (2013) Dir. Mark Pellington

Lone elegantly combines experimental film and music in an almost hour long experience that is rich in ideas, textures and visuals. Its sound is layered and complex, developing and transforming as the film continues. It has elements of Terence Malick, David Lynch, Andrea Arnold and Harmony Korine. It is at times bursting with colour whilst maintaining a bleakness throughout. It is raw, bold and constructed with precision and a clear final vision which has been achieved. The film is designed to portray Chelsea Wolfe, an American musician who incorporated parts of this full film into the music video for her song ‘Feral Love’. The film’s dialogue is made up of lyrics from her album ‘Pain is Beauty’. As the film flows into more cinematic sections you are suddenly reminded that this is the combined work of a musician who suddenly appears, singing at a piano, pulling you out of the cinematic and into the world of musical performance. The film’s editing contributes a lot to the overall result of Lone. Rapid cuts from one surreal and artistic image to another leaves the audience in a consistent state of uncertainty which is enhanced by the tilts of the camera and the use of obscure angles and framing. Lone is an ambitious movie that succeeds in demonstrating the ability of the director, cinematographer, editor, sound designer and, most of all, Chelsea Wolfe. If this was the film’s intention then it has certainly managed to achieve its goal. A truly mesmerising piece of work, draped in talent and delivered with true flare.

The First Step. (2014) Dir. Kate McMeans & Daniel Brown

What directors Daniel Brown, Kate McMeans, and their team achieve in The First Step is capturing an old-fashioned style of horror that the contemporary horror-cinema scene is sorely missing. There are no long silences leading to a cheap scare and no reliance on unimaginative suspense. From the beginning of the film, we are aware of the presence of something unusual. We see it. We don’t have to wait for the typical dramatic reveal. I am a strong believer that horror is at its scariest when the audience aren’t manipulated. It is easy to scare an audience; silence followed by a loud boom would make anyone jump. It takes a lot more for a horror film to really horrify. Jumping out of your seat is a natural reaction and modern horror has become increasingly lazy about how to provoke such a result. What The First Step successfully demonstrates is how, sometimes, simplicity is all you need. The film’s narrative will remind many of the creepy ghost stories that you used to tell your friends at sleepovers. A mother and daughter prepare for their first night in their new house; the house creeks threateningly and the mother acts nonchalant. As the daughter prepares for bed, horror comes out to play. The most endearing part of this whole affair is how slightly camp and tongue-in-cheek it all is; somewhat reminiscent of Vincent Price’s Edgar Allan Poe film adaptations. The First Step is evidently made by people who love and understand all that is good about horror cinema. It is eerie, nightmarish and crawls under the skin for a few hours. Check out the teaser here.

Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry. 

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