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Pavor Nocturnus Short Film Review

★★★

Directed by: #BradCase



 

Pavor Nocturnus is a film written by Brad Case, from the book of short stories Elucidation. The short film is a reading of this story and is coupled with nightmarish images and strange, eerie sounds, as well as a mysterious protagonist who is troubled, frightened and haunted by his own thoughts. Pavor Nocturnus is a sleep disorder which goes far beyond your typical nightmare or dream. Instead, those that suffer with the disorder are subject to terrifying visions that become repeated and can often lead to sudden attacks. This is the condition our protagonist suffers with severely, and the story follows his mission to discover the core source of these terrifying nightmares that torment him.


The voice of the narrator was extremely soothing and melancholic, it was easy for the listener to be swept up in the words and become fully immersed within the tale. The viewer becomes eager to learn more about our tormented character and the dreams that leave him so disturbed. The audience were able to envision the characters within the dream so clearly, the woman in white and the house with which she resides in. The words were powerful and created a vivid image in your mind. Just the voice alone was a fantastic addition to the film, there was already a strong mental picture through just the narrators voice which really strengthened the film.


Pavor Nocturnus followed our protagonist in his home, waking from another sleepless night and performing his average morning routine, making coffee and breakfast, and eating at the table alone. There was an effect used which shows everything in black and white except for anything that appeared red. This selective colourisation is a good technique to use when you want the audience to recognise a significant object that is crucial to the storyline. For example, the girl in the red coat in Schindler’s List was an extremely poignant scene that really stirred a strong emotional response from the viewer. Similarly, Spielberg’s horror classic Jaws does not use the colour red for characters costumes or props because he wanted red to be only associated with blood from the shark’s victims so that it would be that much more dramatic when the audience does see it. Pavor Nocturnus should have committed to just the black and white effect throughout to keep with the macabre ambience of the piece and to focus on the gloomy feel of the dreams. The selective colourisation should only be used to highlight a significant recurring image or theme of the film.


There were times that the film was broken up with bizarre and jarring imagery such as the character looking into the mirror and almost having an outer body experience. His face remains emotionless, however, his inner thoughts and feelings become exposed suddenly and the audience witness the effects the dreams are having on him. These fleeting moments were a great way of exposing the characters mental state and certainly added to the sinister atmosphere of the short film. As this is a horror, these kind of images shifts the film to the centre of the genre. However, these scenes should have been more frequent especially when focusing on a story based around dreams and nightmares. There needs to be that element of strangeness and scenes that do not entirely add up to show how the nightmares are creeping into our protagonist’s day to day life, there was too much focus on his mundane tasks.


Pavor Nocturnus is a great thriller narrative that makes your hairs stand on end and your heart pound. It’s interesting to see how short stories are interpreted and turned into a vision. These types of films allow the director to put their own artistic flare to a story, some of with which you may never have envisioned yourself which is always so inspiring to see.

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