‘Whistle’ Sings a Succinct Song of Terror

By  · Published on April 19th, 2017

Short of the Day

Don’t go in the basement.

If you’ve been following this column really for any amount of time, then you know I’m a big fan of little horror movies. Horror, to me, seems particularly adept to the parameters of short films, as a genre it has the most potential to deliver a complete story in a brief amount of time, because all it takes is one good scare or twist to start painting consequences in our imaginations after the screen goes dark. Horror relies on suggestion more than other genres, it depends on its audience making leaps ahead of the plot and predicting the terror to come to get them in the proper emotional space. When it comes to short films, this trait is heightened because there’s the added tension of runtime ticking down, the temporal space is more limited, which makes the nefarious narrative possibilities more various.

For evidence of what I mean, check out today’s selection Whistle from writer-director-editor Simon Berry, which clocks in at just over three minutes. The premise is simple: Abigail’s flatmates are out and she’s taking advantage of the privacy to do some laundry down in the basement. That’s when she hears a playful whistle, and that’s when this taut, tense, and wicked game of cat and mouse begins.

There’s no dialogue, but that doesn’t stop lead April Smith from delivering a chilling performance that starts off casual and quickly derails into a palpable terror. I’ll admit it, I watched the last 30 seconds or so through my fingers, and I’m willing to bet you will too.

Oh, and another thing I really like about Whistle: it’s proof positive that it doesn’t take a big to-do to make a great short film as long as you start with a great story. This film was shot in one night, edited in one night, and came in under its budget of £25, or just shy of 32 bucks US. From the final product, though, you’d never guess it was done so swiftly and inexpensively. Give Whistle a watch and stay out of that basement, kids.

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