Monday, 13 April 2015


Ah, short films. There's quite the blossoming romance here at the House between short indie horror flicks and me. Each week I come across another short that chills my fear bone (What? That's a thing!) and I'm always endeavouring to bring them to you, my visitors. 
Film festivals seem to be a pretty great place to discover these gems, and Todd Slawsby's The Heebie-Jeebies is one that has been doing the rounds for sometime now.
Is it worth a look? Read on...


Dir: Todd Slawsby
Starring: Katie Preisig, Brendan Mulhern, Liam Slawsby, Lyla Slawsby

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I'll try not to spoil too much here as this is a short, but continue at your own risk.

As bedtime looms, Liam and Lyla (the Slawsbys) discover an interesting new book that they want their doting Mom (Preisig) to read to them.
The book tells the tale of the mysterious Heebie-Jeebies, otherworldly creatures of unknown origin that can regularly be found lurking in the dark places, seeking prey. After this decidedly creepy bedtime story the kids find themselves the victims of several unsettling occurrences. 
Is this childhood exuberance and youthful imagination running riot? Do their parents know what they've let themselves in for? And could there really be something dwelling under the bed?

WHY IT WORKS: Here at Hickey's House of Horrors I've spoken at length about how subverting childhood innocence makes for a whole world of nightmarishly creepy horror goodness. Well, badness, but you know what I mean. Case in point: THAT Teletubbies meets American Horror Story video. BRRRRR.
The Heebie-Jeebies is a good, old-fashioned bedtime story gone very, very wrong.
Much like the sinister storybook in The Babadook, The Heebie-Jeebies is a delightfully twisted little picture book (Okay, I'll admit it, it's a delightfully twisted little picture book that I'd love to own). The beautifully drawn pictures are evocative while the enigmatic story behind the titular beasties is enough to grab the attention.
That's just one of many wonderful design touches that build a creepy atmosphere throughout. 
In a short where complex stories are difficult to tell, evoking a mood is key. Slawsby, his cinematographer Patrick Ruth and production designer Jennifer Gerbino all perform this task admirably. 
With suggestive camera angles and the use of deep, dark shadows to build an air of hidden menace, the creepiness is palpable.
The story, also by Slawsby, manages to provide a couple of nice twists as well as a suitable and believable framing device to connect the tense set pieces (such as the-under-the-bed investigation and late-night window-peeping moments). As well as some nice writing for the family, the Heebie-Jeebies remain a very mysterious and unexplained threat.
With regards to the family, each cast member is more than up to the task. 
I regularly lament the work of inexperienced child actors in genre flicks, but thankfully the young Slawsby's are up to the task. Well done, young sir and miss!
Mulhern's loveable Dad is great, with a couple of very good humorous moments and a good-natured boyish charm to complement the creepy nature of the short.
Preisig's Mom is the glue that holds the whole thing together and her performance is excellent. She just feels like a mother, caring, kind, reassuring and a little exasperated at the antics of her mischievous offspring. She's great and I eagerly look forward to seeing more from her.
Perhaps The Heebie-Jeebies' biggest strength is that it feels like a Goosebumps-style family-friendly frightener with a throwback feel and plenty of charm.
With a well-written story, great performances, a campfire ghost story atmosphere, a suitably spine-tingling soundtrack, a couple of well-timed laughs and even a nice little visual effects shot, The Heebie-Jeebies is great fun. Check it out.

SO WHERE’S IT AT? The Heebie-Jeebies is still doing the rounds at festivals so be sure to check out the film's official Facebook page for news on how and when you can catch it. Give it a Like while you're there too, show Slawsby and co some love!

10 WORD WRAP-UP: A creepy bedtime story with tonnes of old fashioned atmosphere

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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