A man wakes in his apartment to screams, though nothing necessarily seems out-of-place in his dimly-lit apartment. Backlit by the flashing static of his television, he looks through his front door peephole, only to see a nightmare play out in real time to his neighbor, compounded by his complete inability to intervene.
There isn’t much that happens in Enrique Manzo Escamilla’s eight-minute atmospheric horror romp The Peephole (original title: La Mirilla), but then again not much needs to happen. The idea alone is enough to perpetuate a veritable sense of dread. The production design and Fernando del Campo’s cinematography is well-designed, making the scenario more believable (so it doesn’t seem creepy for creepy sake).
The Peephole does have its weaknesses as the short’s main baddie seems a reject from A Serbian Film. The actual shocks are pretty muted, which is compounded by weak stunt choreography.
“…looks through his front door peephole, only to see a nightmare play out…”
The cast holds the film’s tension consistently, as all three of them play their parts admirably, despite the abbreviated story. However, they ultimately never feel like realized characters, serving as vicarious hosts for the audience to experience scares from a first-person point of view. While not necessarily a bad thing, as the characters adequately serve the purpose they are designed for, there is hardly any further connection to what they’re going through beyond basic physical terror, so the fear also becomes truncated.
The Peephole bodes well for the future careers of its collective talent on and off-screen and possesses some truly unique moments of creative flair—however, it stumbles when trying to bring all of its varied elements together, with some pieces that don’t quite work at their core.
The Peephole (2018) Directed by Enrique Manzo Escamilla. Written by Enrique Manzo Escamilla. Starring Sidney Robote, Khristian Clausen, Genaro Mejía.
6 out of 10