Directed by: #LukeCouch
Alone’s premise is about as generic as its title. Typical of a #horror short, a young man is hunted in an isolated building by an unseen enemy, most likely a poltergeist, and he runs to escape its sinister intentions. It’s about as basic a narrative as you can get, but the execution boasts some areas for praise. The sound direction and camera work in particular are the strongest elements, but regrettably, the rest of the film somewhat falls flat.
There are components that could have benefited from a second draft or an additional pair of eyes. For example, why does the chap go to bed fully dressed in the middle of the day? Additionally, while the script largely plays it safe, the finale of death by skateboard slip into head crack doesn’t fit tonally with the rest of Coach’s film. This moment would be at home in a horror-comedy, but feels odd here, damaging the film’s integrity.
In terms of the positives, the choice of soundtrack is spot on, and is implemented appropriately.
Timing the loud shrieks of the orchestra to the ghostly action on screen can be difficult, so kudos to the editor for choosing the correct moments for maximum tension.
The use of lighting is also good, if a bit bland. Naturalistic light is employed throughout, relying on whatever is available on set. This works well when the character uses a torch (a classic horror move), but some more creative variation would’ve been welcome. The final shot of the church bells ringing just steps away from the corpse is effective, and is akin to the dark irony of the parables in the BBC’s A Ghost Story for Christmas series. It’s a shame this shot follows the aforementioned skateboard gaff as it really diminishes its impact.
Acting wise, Hontebeyrie is a little stilted and wooden, though he does carry the burden of being the only player. Unfortunately, the fear of a supernatural incident just isn’t believable through his performance. The editing favours the action of the moment, showing off self-opening doors and footsteps from nowhere. The film could have benefited from more close up reaction shots to properly align us with Hontebeyrie, in addition to more focus on the actor from the director to really pull out some raw, authentic fear.
Overall, Alone is a mixed bag of a horror short. At just over four minutes long, it was always going to be difficult to totally get us invested in the character, but sometimes a little can say a lot. What we are given is an actor acting, rather than a young man in real peril. However, the sound design is undeniably excellent, as is the final shot.
There are hints of greatness in this short, but as it stands, it’s a little too scruffy around the edges to recommend.