Ever since “The Blair Witch Project,” professional and amateur filmmakers have tried to use consumer camcorders and video equipment to make low-budget horror films that seem more realistic due to their low-fi look and documentary style. Sometimes these films work (“Paranormal Activity,” “The Last Exorcism”), sometimes they do not (“The Devil Inside,” “Apollo 18”), but people keep trying. I’m not against low-budget horror or “found footage” horror across the board because when it’s done well; the low-fi look adds a lot to the overall experience. It’s just that everyone thinks they can pull this off for some thrills when it’s actually harder than it appears. Matthew Solomon, the writer/director/editor and star on the short film “Anna” has pulled it off extremely well.
The premise of the film is brilliantly concise; David (Solomon) and Laura (Lisa-Marie Long) are a husband and wife who have decided to move from London to Los Angeles. David heads out to L.A. a week ahead of his wife to get their affairs in order but the two check-in daily via a web chat. On the left, we see the beautiful Laura and on the right, David. This is how the entire film plays out, via video chat.
While the two miss each other and are excited about their future we soon discover that David is not alone in the apartment as weird things begin to happen throughout the night as well as during these web chats. He can’t sleep and hears noises. His things are being misplaced as well and this all has a negative effect on David as he becomes increasingly more agitated.
“Anna” is a very good short. It’s so simple yet effective, I was nearly awestruck. No, it’s not like THE SCARIEST THING YOU’VE EVER SEEN!!!! but it’s a quiet story that slowly builds tension to the point where I was actually getting actively nervous about what might happen next. And this is a short film featuring two people in a video chat that clocks in just under nine minutes, which says a lot for the acting, directing and general ambiance set up by Solomon.
Maybe I’m overstating my enjoyment of the film because there’s so, so many bad shorts out there that this one caught me offguard. But then again, when someone pulls off something very creative and effective in a tiny time frame, I think it’s worth getting excited about.
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