Let me ask a question, when you all were kids, were you afraid of The Boogeyman? Majority of us were to some extent. That boogeyman may have just been the dark, a scary location, or maybe a creepy doll. The point is our minds took that fear of the unknown and extrapolated it into a monster of sorts. But what if that Boogeyman was more than just our mind’s invention. What if The Boogeyman was real?
That is the subject of this week’s pick for IT CAME FROM YOUTUBE! I had the chance to watch the award winning short film, “Speechless” Directed by Dustin Demoret and Produced by Dan Dark and Lauren Harper Dumoulin. The film clocks in at a little over 7 mins and is truly an example of how sound design, pacing, and cinematography can come together to create a feeling of unease and terror.
The film tells the story of a young boy who is awoken by noises coming from outside his door. He perches in front of the door and scribbles down questions to the monster behind the door; first asking if someone is there. The monster replies with a cryptic answer asking that he please open the door. The boy sends a second message asking who the monster is. The Monster replies with “You know who I am,” signifying that this monster has tormented this boy for a while as seen in drawings of the monster thrown across the room. The boy finally sends a final message under the door reading “GO AWAY.”
After a loud thud, the monster replies with a series of threats that he is coming in and will peel off the boy’s skin. The noise grows more violent as the door opens and the monster is revealed to he the boy’s mother who remarks that she is tired of the boy’s relentless obsession and fear over “The Boogeyman.
She closes the door which reveals the shadow of the real monster. A black and peeled creature who glides over to the boy, rests his hand on his mouth, and puts a finger to his own mouth to quite him. The final shot is a pull back on the boy’s door as the sounds of torn flesh permeate throughout the frame.
“Speechless” is a masterpiece in atmospheric horror. The pacing of the edits which can range from slow and methodical to frenetic and wild compliment the growing tension of the story. The music and sound design in this film compliment the smart choices in editing. The music starts off with a sense of wonder and then ratchet up with the sounds of heart beats, flies, and scratches as the tension turns up on the film.
The cinematography was also well done; with shot choices that keep us separated from the action like helpless bystanders while at the same time jumping to shots that clue us into the back story of the boy’s relationship with the monster.
Performances by Ryan Craig as the young boy and Shani Salyers Stiles as the mom are pretty believable. I did think that the boy could have shown a bit more terror in light of what was happening but for a 7 minute short it wasn’t that bad.
My only criticism of the film was actually the reveal of the monster. It would have been a very different kind of film if the monster was actually the mother. That type of reveal would indeed change the dynamics of the film and make it more of an allegory for child abuse but it would also lose the fantastical horror element.
I think why the monster reveal bothers me is that this film does such an amazing job at building terror and suspense through atmosphere that when the monster is finally revealed it is a little lack luster. While the makeup for the monster isn’t bad, it also isn’t the greatest either. It could have been much more effective if instead of revealing the whole monster, we just saw the shadow of it and maybe a hand go across the boy’s face. And of course still retain that final shot with the amazing sound design.
Regardless, this is an excellent example of horror done right. Check this film out below and be sure to find out more from Dustin Demoret and Dan Dark at www.speechlessmovie.com
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