SILENTLY WITHIN YOUR SHADOW (SHORT FILM)

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Ventriloquist dummies have become a trope of their own in horror films, and quite rightly so since they are so blooming terrifying. Scott Lyus’ latest short uses this tried and tested formula to its logical disturbing and pathological extreme.

Performing on stage with her wooden partner, Lucette (Tergeist) is a consummate professional, not letting the diminutive puppet get all the laughs or lower the tone of the show. Back home, things are different. Her boyfriend Jace (Fernandes) feels like a spare part in the relationship, as Hugo is ever-present when they alone.

Jace sets the mood for the home life by recounting a scary story from the paper (the story is actually the plot of another rather good short made several years ago), and the imposing tone doesn’t let up. Hugo is banished to the side-lines as the fed-up Jace tries to be alone with Lucette, but somehow he always appears again. Could the little puppet have a more tangible side?

There’s something innately unnerving about the relationship between the ventriloquist and their manipulated partner, and here we have a somewhat different slant, with the female handler and a clearly jealous model, or maybe Hugo is a possessed former lover? There’s certainly something there, Lucette explains during one of her shows.

Well-acted, and nicely shot (close-ups and darkened rooms make up for the lack of large staging areas for the performance scenes), Lyus’ film is an entertaining fifteen minutes; sure, you can probably guess what’s going to happen, but that’s part of the fun with the short form movie, it’s a way of filmmakers to cut their teeth and get their name out. With this, Scott Lyus could be a name to keep in mind.

Clearly shot on a low budget, the real downfall is the sound mix. Hugo’s voice - ably provided by horror icon Moseley is so out of place that it’s a little off-putting. It’s the only real flaw in the film. No doubt a little more time and money would have rectified this, but it has to be mentioned. It could well be that the film is mixed for surround sound (something we can lack while viewing on a screener), in which case a festival viewing would be perfect. It’s certainly a cracking little fun short that’s worth tracking down.

SILENTLY WITHIN YOUR SHADOW (SHORT FILM) / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: SCOTT LYUS / STARRING: SOPHIE TERGEIST, BYRON FERNANDES, BILL MOSELEY /RELEASE DATE: TBC

 


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