BILL - Short Film Review

★★★★


Directed by: #Dan Gitsham #Sophie Mair

Written by: #Dan Gitsham #Sophie Mair

Starring: #Roxanna Vilk #Chris Bianchi #Hugo Stanbury

Film Review by: Joshua Calladine





Most good horror films have a simple concept. They may vary everything around this, but the central part stays the same. Exorcism. Necromancy. Communication beyond the grave. These are the tokens that BILL deals in, and when the proverbial chips are down the game is fairly straightforward in its play.


The reason why BILL excels at what it does is because it knows exactly what it wants to do and how it wants to do it. With simple shot-reverse-shots conveying almost all of the needed information, editors Dan Gitsham & James Taggart have clearly understood why the Kuleshov effect has seen no challenge for more or less a hundred years.


Cutting between a single monochrome photograph in its frame, each time the man in the picture adopting a different posture, is an obvious but intelligent device, one that articulates so much of the silent suspense that at least half of the dramatic effect is handled in this way. Few filmmakers appreciate the scary living-dead quality of photographs, but here the effect is exploited well.


In a bold if seemingly misguided decision, the monster itself, the eponymous Bill, is revealed at the end of the film. But this too, is executed with impressive skill. The reason again: editing. A cut between the feet of the VFX monster and the widow (Roxanna Vilk) slowly looking up in horror at the creature's height. And a cut between their two alternately screaming faces. This comparison back to the live action from the animation holds the entire scene together, making it believable.


That Matt Harris-Freeth & Neil Giles handled the VFX for the creature so well is a huge benefit for this crucial point in the film: the big reveal. But by avoiding any ostentatious visual frills, instead opting for a plausibly undead grey monster, lanky and gaunt, the horror is carried off without deflating itself.


This plausible approach is carried out also in Sophie Mair's art direction and costume design, that remains believably contemporary without being too gritty, and visibly gothic without being hammy or overtly-referential.


It seems difficult to imagine that a short clocking in at some three minutes could be so effective in what it does, but it never tries to do more than just this, and succeeds without fault. It has scare tactics and sees them well developed. The only lingering sadness is that elusive feeling of wanting more.