Directed by #PhilipBrocklehurst
Written By #MuhammadHolmatov
Short Film Review by Jack Bottomley
In the COVID age filmmakers have both been challenged and restrained by the unsurmountable stresses placed upon them. They have been forced to make use of the resources at hand more than ever before and to maybe even reign in their vision to a degree. On the flip side though, this claustrophobic age of uncertainty, paranoia and indecisiveness has meant that many fears and feelings ingrained in society the world over are ripe for film capitalisation. Director #PhilipBrocklehurst has amassed quite an expansive cv in the last few years, with a range of work that goes from experimental and polarising, to dark and horrific but with Haunter, the director constructs a new horror short, which was shot during the lockdown period. And in these times of challenge, it has to be easily his most accomplished short film offering yet.
The premise is simple, in that young man Alex (#PMThomas) is awoken from his sleep by an unseen force running amok in his home, and things only get worse. Where previous Brocklehurst films like Excitement have perhaps tested the patience, Haunter wastes not a moment of its 7 1/2 minute running time and focuses on the suspense all the way up to a grisly finale.
Admittedly #MuhammadHolmatov’s (who also edits the film - and very well indeed I might add) screenplay is lacking some of the depth that you feel could have rounded it off but on the other hand its simplicity and basis in universal fears is arguably one of its core strengths. The low budget nature of the film also assists to a degree, with #BradFletcher’s everyday cinematography and dark rooms/corridors really working in giving this an innate feel. As the Evil Dead-esque POV camera runs along the home and events start occurring, you are drawn into the effective construction of the film and its equally effective premise. P. M. Thomas’ role here, as Alex, is more to react than anything (there is very little dialogue) and he does a decent enough job of it.
It really is #StephanOrtlepp’s Carpenter-like music, alongside an original piece called “La Lulaĉo de la Morto”, which was written specially for this film by Vladislav Nogin, that do even larger work in adding mounting atmosphere to this short, which is topped off by a snappy, brutal and sharp crescendo. The echoing sounds and vibe of the music matching perfectly the unfolding malicious spectral activity and elevating danger of this narrative. A narrative that ends with a worthwhile payoff.
Haunter has its faults and could have added some exterior to its story but its dark and hand crafted feel adds to the plot being told here and at a time when many are still unsure of leaving their homes, this film taints the security of the home with a simple chilling tale of the unknown and the sadistic ends in which it can take you. A film that almost feels like a short that could have been included in a film in one of the V/H/S series.
This withdrawn story of being isolated (but not alone!!) is definitely Brocklehurst’s best constructed and delivered pieces of work yet.