“The evil is in the loaming,” warns a filthy vagrant in the woods. Oooh, cryptic! As my friend Big Kev would say in his faux moronic voice, “Huuuuhhh?” I don’t know, man. The short film “In the Loaming” is a would-be mini-spooker that doesn’t thrill as much as confound, whether or not by design. Now, I have nothing against confounding spookers, mind you. They can be great fun, especially when one’s patient confoundment is rewarded by the Big Payoff, or hell, even the dreaded Open Ending. But apart from an intriguing, “Blue Velvet”-y opening sequence where a boy happens upon a severed finger in the woods, “In the Loaming” is little more than an exercise in stale genre histrionics, hardly worth losing sleep over. If evil really is in the loaming, as the vagrant claims, then so is bad acting and a load of supernatural hooey.
“Everything changes,” assures Dustin (Timothy Lawrence).
“Not this place,” reality checks Linda (Jennifer Perreault).
Since Linda is the one revisiting the nightmarish woods of her childhood, where crazy bad s**t (probably) went down, my money’s on her. It’s a safe bet: the creepy woods haven’t changed one bit since pre-teen Linda followed the boy, Todd (Kyle Engle), to the spot of his discovery on that fateful day, many years back. The shock of what happened then was apparently so great that Linda all but blocked it from her memory. But whatever it was, it wants back in the game, and it’s coming closer to breaking out every night in dreams. Each one ends with her waking violently and screaming. After reluctantly closing the deal on the property (it was her family’s) for a hefty sum, Linda feels compelled to revisit the scene of the crime one last time, and of course, have a picnic! Within mere minutes of entering the woods on foot (conveniently for the plot, Dustin broke the key off in the gate lock) however, she and Dustin encounter the prophetic vagrant, get separated, and get spooked by Todd’s ghost. Determined to exorcise her demons, Linda mindlessly follows the apparition along the same path they once traversed to that same spot, where, you guessed it, more crazy bad s**t goes down, in the form of evil weeds and menacing branches no less. And the whole thing’s oh so… fateful.
The only people directors J. Cody Lucido and Mark Engle seem to be entertaining with this effort are themselves. Though fairly ambitious in scope, their film just doesn’t work as a 20-minute short. Far too many questions are left unanswered, which might be okay if the questions were even fully formed to begin with or worth thinking about. Given an actual budge and a longer running time, “In the Loaming” might make a passable thriller, for those into passable thrillers, that is. As for the film’s technical elements, there’s not much worth mentioning aside from a nifty, if pointless, opening credit sequence and a slightly interesting sound mix. In the lead roles of Linda and Dustin, Jennifer Perreault and Timothy Lawrence turn in awkward, stilted performances at best. But let’s face it, even a Pacino can’t make movie magic out of lines like, “To the future and leaving the past behind!” Hey, all I can say is, at least we were warned: “All will perish in the loaming.” Indeed.