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RJ Bayley Reviews: Dreams (Anthology Series Ep.1)

by RJ Bayley

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It’s a short short but with its duo of effective elements, this makes for a tasty Halloween treat. It’s framed really nicely by the device of the our protagonist (played by Britney Spindler) at the psychiatrist too. It adds reality and a certain sense of factuality to the story she recounts. Given that this is intended as a Halloween season short, it also serves the dual purpose of being an old fashioned telling of a scary story but with a serious intent.

The first of those aforementioned dual elements involves a figure getting closer and closer to our victim every time she closes her eyes. So far, so ho-hum-bog-standard-short-movie-weeping-angels-rip-off. But what makes it really stand out when deployed here is that it starts with the figure just standing outside her front door, staring at it. That idea alone is enough to send tingles down your spine. The key to sustaining this is that we actually see him move from outside to inside the house. Her sense of safe space being violated is made a point of. Her drifting off to sleep, despite the fact she is inside a dream, makes a more interesting twist than the standard ‘the lights keep going out’. It’s a very, very common concept for a short, yet with just a little tinkering, Writer/Director Jeremy Medina makes something more of it.

The second of the dual elements is the arrival of the figure over the victim’s bed. Again, it’s not your standard short movie jump scare. No, it’s genuinely unnerving as the figure repeatedly pleads in a whisper, “please don’t kill me” before slicing open his own stitched together throat, indicating that he’s done it time and time again. The effects and blood spray is so effective that I genuinely flinched.

The ending, however, isn’t really an ending. It just stops. A warning sign is hammered in front of (presumably) the house and instead of a feeling of ‘ooooh!’ I was left with one of ‘so what?’ To be fair, it’s a prevalent mistake among short film makers. There’s a disparity between the amount of time that they spend making the film and the amount of time we actually watch it. While the filmmakers often pour over their products, an audience of a five minute short will not. We’re rarely going to sit there figuring out what the meaning of a short is, even less so with a five minute one. The reality of shorts is: we consume them and move on, only to be watched once. If we’re left with an illusive denouement then we’re probably not going to go looking for it. We’re just going to be left disappointed. It’s a shame here, as everything leading up to it is so good.

★★★

Follow @RJBayley on Twitter and visit his website rjbayley.com

Watch ‘Dreams’ on YouTube

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