BLACK MASS (SHORT) / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: SCOTT LYUS / STARRING: JOHNNY VIVASH, SOPHIA ELENI, CHARLIE BOND / RELEASE DATE: TBC
People handle bereavement in many ways, some throw themselves into work and some mourn and then try to get on with their lives. Charlie (Vivash) is bereft and his adopted daughters (Eleni and Bond) are coping as best they can but are worried about him. He’s been behaving strangely, and there have been moments when they’ve all felt a malevolent presence in the house.
Scot Lyus’ previous shorts have all succeeded in invoking an atmosphere of dread while maintaining a sense of melancholy in his characters. Black Mass is no exception. While you may be expecting a ritualistic element to the story, it’s not a major spoiler to say that isn’t really the point. The title can also refer to the entity in the house of the mourning family, which appears to be engulfing Dad. It’s a poignant reminder of how people deal with grief differently and the dark power of depression. The spirit is a literal manifestation of what can engulf someone suffering and as anyone who has had experience with the illness will testify, it can be terrifying. Lyus handles this wonderfully and with the utmost respect for the characters. There are no over the top hysterics or stereotypical behaviour. Nothing is overplayed; it’s a very relatable situation.
As the bereft father, Johnny Vivash is superb, his world has come crashing down yet he has to keep it together as best he can for his grown-up daughters. While one wants to conduct a séance to make his feel better about his loss, the other doesn’t believe in the ‘mumbo jumbo’ - until she sees the creature hovering around her dad.
Black Mass manages to pack more emotion and tension into 11 minutes than some feature films do, and Lyus must be commended for that. It’s his most accomplished work to date, and we can’t wait to see what’s to come.