Directed by: #FinnCallan
Written by: Finn Callan
Guest is a short film written and directed by Finn Callan that relies on a simple enough premise – Mary, a young woman takes extreme measures to rid herself of a nightmarish presence. Callan’s short, though, is nothing but simple.
With a minimalist plot and scarce dialogue, the short film is told through the sophisticated cinematography by Fyodor Houtheusen, Trifa Keedo’s editing and sound design, and most of all through the eyes of the characters. The look is of the utmost importance in Callan’s short - Melania Crisan, who plays Mary, locks our attention with her vulnerable gaze and invites us to feel her pain whereas Jessica Munna, who plays the woman who helps Mary, invites us to care for the stranger from a detached perspective, and finally, Anna Fraser, who plays the guest, the otherworldly creature who haunts Mary, penetrates us with her frightening stare. As terrifying as the guest’s stare is, it holds our look, so much so that by the end of the short we understand and sympathise with Mary’s actions.
Francesca Giacovelli is the name behind the design, make up and prosthetic special effects – she is the one to blame if you can’t stop thinking about the guest’s face after the film is over. Drawing from Callan’s sketch, Giacovelli brought to life one of the aspects that makes the guest so scary. Its minimal face complements the eerie atmosphere the film creates and sustains throughout the short, and its bulging eyes enhance the uneasiness felt by Mary and us.
Callan’s short film offers a mature and complex understanding of the horror genre. He understands the simplicity of his story and develops its emotional depth. What Mary sees is an omnipresent creature that permeates her life to the extent that its presence cripples her. What she chooses to do is a desperate yet cathartic measure that, whoever has a trauma or past experience that escapes unconsciousness and slips into the realm of the consciousness, can relate to her and her distraught demeanour.
The emotional depth mentioned above is enhanced through, firstly, sound design. In moments when there is no dialogue, the sound design sutures the open questions proposed in the narrative; secondly, the bleak colours combined with the secluded area wherein the film is shot heighten the feeling of loneliness Mary feels. The subjective shots as well as the open and wide shots augment the guest’s omnipresence. Moreover, the frontal close ups of the characters that focus on their eyes and linger just enough to make us uncomfortable privilege their emotions.
Guest plays extremely well with its arsenal and Callan proves to have a refined and practical ability to convey his ideas.