Wednesday, 16 December 2015


Attention filmmakers — Twitter is your friend!
Recently I was approached by the wonderful guys at Lovely Lovely Voice (@LuvlyLuvlyVoice), the filmmaking trio of Mark Dutton (@notjustforham), Paul Jones (@Real_PaulJones) and Chris Blight (@Blighty1984), about covering their new short, Latch, via the bluebird-logoed social network.
They got my attention and earned 9mins and 37secs of my time for their efforts.
And it was just shy of 10 minutes very well spent!

LATCH (2015)

Dir: Christopher Blight
Starring: Mark Dutton

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: This is a short so I'll try not to spoil too much, but read on at your own risk.

As the working day draws to a close, a solitary worker (Dutton) finds himself alone in a dark enclosed office on an industrial site warehouse.
While he taps away at his computer, the peace and quiet is disturbed by the repetitive and rhythmic crash of a door left ajar. Nervously he ventures out into a pitchblack subterranean tunnel and finds the door swinging freely in the wind. His suspicions aroused, he carefully makes his way back to his desk... which is when he notices an ominous blue tarp through his window.
A tarp with something beneath it...

WHY IT WORKS: I think it's pretty safe to call Latch a low-fi effort. However, what the talented North-East-based trio of Dutton, Jones and Blight prove is that when it comes to scares there is no greater asset than filmmaking technique. This short may have a tiny cast and very little in the way of blood, gore, creature effects and jumpscares, but what it has in abundance is tonnes of exquisitely cultivated atmosphere. 
The slowly but relentlessly mounting tension throughout the short really is the film's biggest strength — it is a masterclass in building unease.
The story, by director Blight and star Dutton, seems relatively simple, however, as it goes on the plot shows some surprising depth, hinting at a darker, emotional backstory. However, the somewhat linear series of events are presented in such a way as to mine each scenario for every drop of tension. The film shows some impressive cinematography (by Blight and Jones), making superb use of shadow and using a couple of bright, bold colours to make an impact at key moments. The camerawork is especially impressive, with some excellent angles, technically assured framing and a clever use of claustrophobic close-ups and creepy wider angles that hint at something darker and more disturbing lurking in the background.
The film was shot in Newcastle over a couple of weekends and the crew really do deserve the utmost credit for finding some tremendously spooky locations on which to film this nasty little number.
As what is essentially a one-man show, a lot of the film's success hinges on the acting ability of Dutton. And as well as proving a wiz at scripting and in the editing suite, he proves pretty good in front of the camera too.
He's believable in an Everyman way, his reactions never seem questionable and there is never any doubt as to what the character's motivation is. It's a role without dialogue so Dutton has to convey everything just using facial expressions and body-language. It can't have been easy but he manages to tell a compelling story. This is impressive work.
As great as Dutton's character work is, it is the true nature of the enigmatic 'Latcher' which makes for one of the plot's biggest mysteries. The Lovely Lovely Voice gang don't exactly batter the audience over the head with exposition — the film's ending is refreshingly open — but what they do provide is one of the creepiest genre 'antagonists' I've seen in a long, long time. 
Or should that read 'that I HAVEN'T seen'? Utilising the classic method of getting the audience's imagination to do all the work for you, the eerie, motionless presence lurking beneath the tarp is infinitely more frightening than thousands of dollars worth of CGI ghouls or goblins. Trust me.
With plenty of talent and care for their craft on display, Latch firmly establishes Lovely Lovely Voice (not to mention the folks at Mr Blight Productions, EAT. SLEEP. GEEK and turnipheadpictures) as a group of filmmakers that I shall keep a keen eye on in the future.

SO WHERE'S IT AT? I imagine you want to check the short out right now?
Well you can do it here!

Once you've finished, head over to the Lovely Lovely Voice Facebook page and give it a Like. Blight, Hutton and Jones really do deserve it!

10 WORD WRAP-UP: A simple but superb masterclass in building tension and suspense

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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