Short of the Day
A taut creature-feature brings the terror.
Got a little homespun horror coming at you today courtesy of this thrilling, chilling, and scary-good 20-minute short from writer/director Matt Braunsdorf entitled, cleverly, John the Carpenter.
Like the best horror films, John the Carpenter has a seemingly simple plot: driving home one night, John (Jared Dymbort, who also produced and composed the score) and his sister Anna (Mali MacConnell) get into an accident after some sort of terrifying creature jumps in front of their car. John is rendered unconscious and to save him Anna – and this is in the official synopsis so shouldn’t be considered a spoiler, rather an impetus for the rest of the film, but if you want to go in unawares, skip now to the final paragraph, or just press play – lures the creature into the deeper woods. John regains his senses just in time to witness Anna’s ultimate sacrifice. Injured, mute, and grieving, John enacts a crafty plan to capture the creature and repay the debt with which his sister’s death has saddled him.
Besides being novel, well-performed, and expertly told, John the Carpenter is also gorgeous thanks to the moody and voyeuristic cinematography of Vasilios Sfinarolakis, which won an award at the Nightmares Film Festival, just one the short was selected for. It was also shown at Dances With Films, Holly Shorts, NYC Horror Fest, and Other Worlds Austin, where it won another award, this one for Dymbort’s score.
It’s also worth noting that the make-up and creature effects in John the Carpenter, headed up by Steve Saturn, add a real air of credence to the film and do their part to heighten the tension and sense of palpable terror.
Horror shorts, I think, are the most hit-or-miss. There’s no middle ground, it doesn’t seem like, they either fail or succeed. John the Carpenter is a big honking success, and absolutely worth the watch; it’s inventive, vengeful, and indicative of a creative team working in sync and firing on all cylinders. Get your eyes on it stat, but maybe leave a light on.