Directed by Tubia Moreno
Short Film Review by Annie Vincent
Left Alone is a short film exploring the fear of being home alone on a stormy night ... through the eyes of a cat.
Yes, a cat.
It is mad. How can a horror film be taken seriously if the protagonist is a cat, audiences will wonder. They will also wonder what on earth is going on as, whilst some of the camera-work and sound effects have been thought about, it is very unclear what is happening and the sense of foreboding attempted is lost in the darkness and ambiguity of this film.
Moreno has chosen to film in black and white which initially works as it adds to the feeling of the unknown, and really that's what this film is about, regardless of the cat. The opening montage provides a series of stills which seem promising. All of them are well-chosen and set the film up to be quite tense.
At times, the camerawork is appropriate and even clever, capturing the cat’s view from under the bed or from inside a small cat kennel. Morano has clearly spent a great deal of time thinking about the world through the eyes of a cat and he works hard to cover the setting with up-angled shots and narrow lens views which give the impression there could be many things lurking in the darkness. Well chosen sound effects add to the sense of fear the cat feels: slamming doors, banging from unknown sources, the screeches of the railway.
But this is where the positives end for Left Alone. Morano seems to revert to the use of blackouts on a couple of occasions, leaving the sound effects to deliver the story, except that they don’t. They’re too ambiguous or incongruous to give the audience any indication of what is happening to the cat in the dark and whilst other horror films have used such techniques to explore the fear the mind creates when left alone in the dark, it doesn’t work here and it is not just because the audience are asked to empathise with a scared cat. It's unclear exactly what startles the cat at the end and what has happened to it when its owner returns home. Any sense of horror or the classic jump-moments we might expect aren't delivered and with such an empty resolution audiences are likely to finish watching this and wonder what the point of it was.
Still, if you really, really like cats, it could be for you.