Dreams and reality blur together in Robbie Atkinson’s horror short Kalimba. Cassidy (Raiany Silva) is a young teen who has been experiencing sleep problems ever since her father brought home a mysterious Kalimba given to him by his friend. Every night, Cassidy finds herself in a state of sleep paralysis…unable to move but fully awake, only to see a demon hovering over her and watching.
Cassidy’s night terrors were loud enough to wake her concerned mother (Sheila Ball). Yet after searching their home, no sign of intrusion or danger could be found, and questions Cassidy’s state of mind. The next day, Cassidy confides in the only person who would believe her…family black sheep, Esther (Joana Cruz).
With Robbie Atkinson’s short film comes a note from the director. Kalimba is not only a proof of concept for a potential feature film but also, the story was co-written by Robbie’s father, J.E. Atkinson.
In Kalimba, Robbie opens with a sequence where Cassidy finds herself stalked by a demon. She searches her darkened home at night, unsure of what’s around every corner. Atkinson adeptly shifts us between horror and reality, setting the stage for the true terror to come later.
“…no sign of intrusion or danger could be found, and questions Cassidy’s state of mind.”
This is also proof of concept as Kalimba focuses more on filming the horror elements and less on the actual lore of the Kalimba, which I don’t recall ever seeing…just talked about. In reading the press notes, Kalimba explores family tension, generational differences, and spirituality. All ideas and themes with great potential yet are not explored in any profound way because of the film’s short twenty-minute timelines.
One example is the third-act shower scene. The demon’s appearance needs to be better integrated with Cassidy’s reaction in the shower. The danger needs to feel much more present and up-close to connect her horror with the object of that horror.
The dream for Kalimba is to ultimately become a fully fleshed-out horror feature. This short is a step in the right direction. The foundation is laid to push the limits of horror for indie filmmaking and storytelling.
For more information about Kalimba, visit the RPX Media Productions website.
"…ultimately become a fully fleshed-out horror feature."