In a deserted ramshackle house, amongst the creaking boards, flickering lights and howling wind, a professor and his assistants set up to spend the night for research purposes. The house is reportedly haunted. As the quartet settle down to begin their evening, Liz (Tergeist) recounts the tale of the family that lived there forty years earlier to the inquisitive helpers Frank (writer Sands, who older readers may remember from eighties TV series Moondial) and Fred (McFadden). It’s a creepy and sinister story that not only puts the pair on edge but provides some palpable tension. The young children of the family had gone missing one night and the parents were accused of their murder. The tragedy doesn’t stop there as the father committed suicide shortly after and the mother died of a broken heart, claiming the ‘house took the children’. As the evening goes on, the past resurfaces with some disturbing revelations.
Lyus’ short is an effective exercise in atmosphere and tension, with the story bringing many spine-tingling and thought-provoking moments. As events unravel, it becomes as much about grief and loss than ghosts and haunted houses.
In the space of just twenty minutes, we’re sent on a rollercoaster of emotions and thanks to the moody cinematography of Sharad Patel and the engaging script by Sands, the tension is soon amped to the max. An impressive sound design bolsters the eeriness, and Tergeist’s delivery is pitch-perfect; not straying into a clichéd campfire recitation but genuinely captivating.
As the short reaches its dramatic but beautifully understated denouement, one can’t help but wish there had been longer to build the tension and deeper character development to increase the emotional impact of the climax. It’s the biggest downside of the short format. It’s a testament to all involved that we’re left thinking this, though.
Like Lyus’ previous release, Echoes of the Passed is set to tour the film festivals of the world over the next months. If you get a chance to see it, make sure you do.
ECHOES OF THE PASSED / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: SCOTT LYUS / SCREENPLAY: TONY SANDS / STARRING: PAUL DEWDNEY, TONY SANDS, SOPHIE TERGEIST, MAC MCFADDEN / RELEASE DATE: TBC