Agora Image


By Alan Ng | May 3, 2023

In writer-director Joseph William Gregory’s short thriller, Agora, our past is a spirit that follows us throughout our life and never goes away. Seeing that Allegra (Jackie Seijo) is carrying great pain in their life, their friend gives them a mysterious box once owned by their grandmother. It might be witchcraft, but the box can take away your burdens, the unwanted weight in your life. Then, after a while, you can move on from life.

Allegra’s burden is great. Their very-pregnant partner Nat experienced great trauma from an assault, and they find themself unable to deal with or even process what happened. Allegra, to this point, has had to live with the consequences of emotionally alienating Nat and their unborn child alone and with the box as their only comfort.

Agora is a cautionary tale of ignoring your past, particularly your responsibilities to those you love. Gregory weaves a psychological horror to heighten the feelings of regret and the pain of turning on the ones we love. From the start, you’ll first notice that this is a no-budget DIY short film. However, Gregory utilizes some interesting techniques to compensate for his lack of resources beyond just having actors and a camera.

It might be witchcraft, but the box can take away your burdens…”

Most low-budget horror directors shoot their films in the daytime and avoid using expensive lighting. Instead, Gregory uses minimal lighting in the dark to paint each scene. Much of the short is shot in the dark, and light is used only to illuminate the intended subjects of that scene. It’s an interesting way to take what little lighting you have and focus on what’s important in the frame. With these tools in place, the filmmaker dives into loss and remorse themes. As Allegra, Seijo gives an emotional performance of their regret for turning their back on Nat when they need them most.

The only weaknesses in Agora are its lack of budget and ratcheting horror elements to creepier levels. In addition, the audio is a bit uneven, sounding like much of it was done in post. As good as Seijo is, the conclusion needed to dig deep into the dark realms of horror. In other words, I wanted to walk away scared shitless.

Short films are a great way to hone your craft as indie filmmakers. In Agora, filmmaker Joseph William Gregory literally paints a horror tale with light, or the lack thereof.

For more information, visit the Agora Instagram page.

Agora (2023)

Directed and Written: Joseph William Gregory

Starring: Jackie Seijo, etc.

Movie score: 6.5/10

Agora Image

"…literally paints a horror tale with light, or the lack thereof."

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