For variety (and sanity), I try to include a short film every horror-thon, but it’s mostly to remind myself that the short film format has the potential to produce the strongest scares. They’re mostly single scenes, with no character build-up, are often wordless (good for global reach), and zip by in a few minutes. All of that cooks up some delicious and terrifying unpredictability.
For this October’s short, I chose Reverse, directed by Josh Tanner and co-written with Jade Van Der Lei. In it, an everyman (Joel Stanton) is just trying to get into his car and drive out of a dark underground car park. The setting itself is creepy enough, but an unseen force seems determined to prevent him from leaving…
Tanner and Van Der Lei utilise some clever devices – tight framing, extended shots that don’t keep telegraph beats, and a couple of jump-style scares that genuinely got me. But what’s nifty is the use of the car’s various beeps and screens that move the story forward while adding their own digital frights, such as the ‘seatbelt sign’ showing an extra, invisible person, or the dashcam footage distorting. The tension is nigh-unbearable, bolstered by Stanton’s pitiful wimpering (there is no dialogue), until the SFX quality pops the balloon a little. Still, it’s a top entry in well-done shorts, and yet another everyday location of which you’ll now be afraid.
Watch it above!