Saturday, 17 January 2015


I’ve got a great run of some top quality genre shorts coming your way at the moment. From my recent coverage of Call Girl (available to view for free very soon) to some legitimately great award winners in the days ahead.
The latest of these is She. Showing that indie horror shorts can attract talent from larger productions now, She stars Fiona Dourif, daughter of genre legend Brad and the star of the surprisingly awesome Child’s Play sequel Curse of Chucky and the upcoming and highly regarded Fear Clinic. It’s a short that has also attracted a lot of attention for its highly disturbing and graphic content.
I’m a pretty hardened horror reviewer, could this film work its magic on me? Read on…

SHE (2014)

Dir: Chelsey Burdon and Mark Vessey
Starring: Fiona Dourif and Phillip James

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I’ll try not to spoil too much as this is a short, but read on at your own risk.

She is the story of a couple, He (James) and She (Dourif) in a broken and dying relationship in the days leading up to their anniversary. We see a series of awkward wordless interactions, escalating to legitimately horrifying levels.
Forget about their relationship — will THEY survive to see their next anniversary?

WHY IT WORKS: I’ll get straight to it — this IS a genuinely horrifying horror film. It isn’t a feel-good flick, but it is incredibly compelling and fantastically well put together. 
It is brave, challenging but most of all, brilliant. The decision to go almost entirely without dialogue was a huge risk but it TOTALLY paid off.
As well as showing us the lack of communication taking place in this loveless relationship, it ensures that the attention of the audience is dragged to every little nuance of the actors’ performance, encouraging us to use our brains to attempt to piece together exactly what has happened, what is going on with these characters and how this couple have ended up at place so very, very bleak.
Of course, if the actors weren’t up to the task this decision WOULD have backfired spectacularly — however I’m delighted to say that both Dourif and James are marvellous. They completely hit every mark, selling complex and diverse emotional states with slight gestures, expressions and the subtlest of looks. As you can tell by the title, She most closely follows Dourif’s character and at times her performance is heartbreaking. She has some tough scenes and you can’t help but feel for her. She has a natural fragility and an air of desperation about her that really pulls the viewer onside — and makes the conclusion of the short that much more powerful. I thought Dourif was wonderful in Curse of Chucky, I think she’s even better in this. Fiona Dourif WILL be a massive star. This is just another step along the way.
That isn’t to say that this is a one person show — James is also awesome. He starts as a bit of a bad-mannered dick but swiftly becomes something far worse. As the story progresses he becomes something of an enigma and adds a dark layer of tension to the already simmering atmosphere. James’ performance is also superb, not just as a foil to Dourif but in its own right. I shall watch his career with interest.
There is a third character in this film — the house in which it is set. The single setting is expertly shot (David Meadows cinematography is worthy of awards in its own right, while Mitch Harrod’s editing propels complements it perfectly) and the use of clever angles, quick and clever cuts and some well-used tight framed shots build a suffocatingly claustrophobic atmosphere that really heightens the feeling of being trapped that comes from observing this damaged relationship during its death-throes. 
Burdon and Vessey haven’t just directed this terrifically twisted little tale, they also wrote it. Credit is due to both, neither of whom have a particularly long CV but they show a level of talent far-beyond the experience-levels this would suggest. This is a film that manages to pack expert filmmaking tricks such as heavy foreshadowing, shifting focus and weighty themes such as gender roles and the power of a relationship over the psyche of those within it. These are not novices — Burdon and Vessey are already at the top of their game. Congratulations to you both, this short is an incredible achievement and you’ve made a fan here at Hickey’s House of Horrors.
Finally, I need to address that finalé. SPOILERS********** After showing incredible restraint throughout, especially during the most disturbing scene prior to the climax, it absolutely SLAMS you with some of the most shocking and graphic heavy-hitting splatter I’ve EVER seen. As the film has cut away at key moments earlier, it lingers on this scene actually zooming in on the gory actions taking place. It is also some great visual effects work and will cause squirms, gasps, winces and worse. SPOILERS END********** This scene doesn’t just live up to the hype — it surpasses it.
She disturbs and captivates, it mesmerises and appalls. You may not enjoy it, but you do need to watch this short.

SO WHERE’S IT AT: The short has had a wonderful run on the festival circuit and isn’t yet available to watch at home, but why not hit their Facebook page, give it a like and keep your eyes peeled for any announcements over their for when you can all check out this excellent film.

10 WORD WRAP UP: Psychological horror and top-drawer performances with a killer finalé

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to!
Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

No comments:

Post a Comment