It’s not the sheet that makes the ghost, it’s the ghost that makes the sheet.
The best horror films, I believe, should be simple in conceit, they should deal with one overwhelming emotion only ‐ fear ‐ and leave the labyrinthine plots and heavy exposition for thrillers or dramas. The Witch, Hush, Lights Out, Don’t Breathe, and 10 Cloverfield Lane were the biggest horror films of 2016, and each of them deals with a pretty basic scenario: something preys upon the protagonists, which they attempt to avoid. Evil exists for its own sake in these films, there are no over-explanations, no multi-layered narratives, no serpentine routes to their resolutions; the goal is simply to survive, and therein lie all the chills, thrills, and drama we need.
Attic Panic, a short film from married couple David F. Sandberg (who wrote and directed) and Lotta Losten (who stars), distills the simplicity of horror to perhaps its purest form: three minutes, no dialogue, no explanations, just a woman storing stuff in a communal attic space who comes face to face (so to speak) with a supernatural experience.
If the name David F. Sandberg is familiar, it’s because Attic Panic isn’t the only film I’ve mentioned in this post that he’s directed; he also shot and wrote Lights Out, which is based on another wickedly simple short film he made. Dude’s got a style and man, does it work. There’s a little Poe in Sandberg, his horror ‐ even the supernatural stuff ‐ comes at you from a human perspective, it puts you in the trembling shoes of the hero or heroine, thus heightening your attachment to the terror. And as a further testament to his skills as a horror master, I selected his short, watched it, loved it, and wrote up most of this without realizing I was talking about this particular Sandberg.
Up next for the director is Annabelle 2, a sequel to the Conjuring spinoff, in which Losten also has a role. In the meantime, don’t just watch Attic Panic, jump over to Sandberg’s Vimeo page and check out all of his and Losten’s collaborations, it’s a unique opportunity to watch the ascent of a director destined to be a major voice in horror just as people are starting to listen. Ooh, and watch the hell out of Lights Out, but most definitely with the lights on.