Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2022 Review! From an early age, we have “stranger danger” bludgeoned into our heads, but we’re all strangers when we meet someone for the first time. Writer-director Eli Powers uses this notion as the basis for his compelling horror short Skin & Bone.
A mysterious drifter with ocular albinism in one eye (Thomas Sadoski) wanders onto a farm, hoping to find work. The farm is owned by an equally mysterious woman (Amanda Seyfried) who keeps to herself and likes it that way. She hires the drifter as a helping hand and gives him a room in the barn. Nightmares plague him when he sleeps, and as he works around the farm, discoveries and visions make him question his sanity. This ultimately leads to deadly consequences.
“…he works around the farm, discoveries and visions make him question his sanity.”
Throughout Skin & Bone, Powers does an excellent job transforming an expansive rural estate into a claustrophobic prison. The acres look grand until viewed through the drifter’s unique lens, marred by bloody jarring little mental shocks that make our skin crawl and our minds wonder what is actually going on. Most importantly, we question our sanity along with the drifter’s. Is he going crazy, or is there something nefarious lurking here? Neither answer is particularly reassuring.
When telling a story of this type in such a limited time frame, you need a cast that sells it, and that’s exactly what we have here. Both Sadoski and Seyfried are uncomfortable in their exchanges, ratcheting up the tension and reinforcing the notion of stranger danger. In the gory visions, Nick Verdi projects horrific desperation like his life depends on it.
To say so much in so little time is a talent few can master. With a limited cast and setting, Eli Powers has done just that while simultaneously getting us to wonder what is real. That’s really the crux of it, too: paranoia. We’re very rarely who we say we are. The danger lies in how much of ourselves we reveal to each other. We’re either bonded or damned for life, the worst-case scenario being both. Skin & Bone may be an extreme example, but it reminds us that strangers are still a danger and everything is not always as it seems.
Skin & Bone screened at the 2022 Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.
"…we’re all strangers when we meet someone for the first time."