Sensor Short Film Review

★★★★★

Directed By: #BrianLTan

Written by: #JonathanHirsch

Starring: #DanaLee #NikkiSoohoo


Short Film Review by #ChrisBuick

Short film Sensor sees an aged Vietnam veteran finally decide to face his demons head on. With his life having been forever haunted by traumatic memories of conflict, it seems (as far as he is concerned at least) that these ghosts have now not only manifested themselves as a psychological threat, but also a malevolent physical presence. After resolving to placing motion sensors all around his property, he takes up a position to make his final stand. But unfortunately, making the brave decision to try to exorcise oneself of the past doesn’t always mean that you will succeed.


Despite only running for almost exactly three minutes, this highly successful #shortfilm from #filmmaker Brian L. Tan accomplishes more in that short time than many entries in the horror/thriller have with much a more generous duration. It’s secret? Applying the basic ethos of "keep it simple” across the board, a mantra that clearly echoes throughout all areas of the production.


At its core, Sensor is the quintessential “monster in the house” concept executed in such a thought-out way that it gives the film such a strong blueprint to work from. It’s a great piece of writing from Hirsch, its storytelling is purposefully subtle, the details deliberately vague, its dialogue almost completely absent, yet it still materialises the right amount of subtext needed to fully comprehend our subject's situation. Little touches throughout such as a simple sketch or a barely audible hushed word all help invoke a sense of depth and highlights the obvious care and thought that has been applied here. Asides from all that, not only does it hit every necessary beat and note that a short horror needs to in order to captivate and hold an audience's attention for a very tense few minutes, but it also works as a tremendous metaphor for the unsympathetic monster that is PTSD. 


Every aspect of this project in fact seems to play together like a brilliant orchestra and again; simplicity is the key. From the actual score itself, which builds the sensation of dread so discreetly before exploding into a thunderous crescendo, to the honestly fearful performance from real life veteran Lee, all the way through to the elegant cinematography, where in wielding nothing more than the dark backdrop of nightfall broken spontaneously then frantically by the fiery red glare of the motion sensors, Tan manages to create such a vivid and frankly creepy atmosphere that ensures the film has its full weight behind its punch at the end.


Whether the film was intended to be the powerful allegory that it creates is irrelevant. Sensor not only is a shining example of short horror done right, but brilliantly shows how formidable a monster PTSD can be by literally turning it into one. 


#ChrisBuick

Watch the entire film for free below.