A Specter Whispers in the Dark
30 Oct 2021
Peter Dorn Ravlin
Peter Dorn Ravlin
Kerri Ann Bourne, Ken Krauss, Steve Ritchie
Horror season is upon us, and a short, original thriller with homages to classic predecessors of the past should be a perfect accompaniment for a night of scares on October 31st. Unfortunately, A Specter Whispers in the Dark lacks the polish to impress, and fails also to reach levels of extravagance to be a memorable B-movie.
When she discovers a terrifying threat sprawled on her mirror in blood, Felicity (Kerri Ann Bourne) reports her concerns to the police. When an aggressive detective (Ken Krauss) is no help, she returns home to find her ex-boyfriend Jacob (Steve Ritchie) at her door, requesting a place to stay for the night. Reluctantly, she lets him in. But an ominous danger threatens her home, and Felicity must discover whether it comes from outside, or from within.
Whilst a very different Spectre stalks a certain super-spy across cinema screens, those looking for a more intimate and intense experience may be attracted to the classic, but inventive premise of A Specter Whispers…However, the execution of the movie is poor, with acting that is lacking, plot holes littered throughout, and unacceptably poor production that lets the film down. These technical failings prevent the film from reaching its potential, or from providing any real scares.
Interactions between characters are unconvincing and unnatural, with forced tension and manufactured drama at an uncomfortable forefront. This is never more evident than in scenes in the police station, where Felicity’s concerns are met with a laughable overreaction by the detective – for nothing more than the sake of plot filler. This type of failing (which, even more frustratingly in the case of the police station, never becomes relevant to the story) is one of direction rather than performance – and is tied inherently to poor scripting and plot. Similar awkward interactions between Felicity and Jacob emerge later in the film, however these at least feel somewhat more appropriate given their character dynamics.
The film’s actual story does feature some welcome twists which will leave viewers intrigued and invested in the plot’s direction. Classic horror plot premises are used cleverly to set-up what appear to be predictable beats – before turning these premises on their head in a proactive and daring manner. These moments create thrills and shocks in the moment, but do lead to plot holes which don’t stand up to basic scrutiny. With a primary purpose to strike chills into audiences, trying something different and innovative should be commended – but this could still have been achieved with a sharper and tighter script.
There are unfortunate production issues throughout which damage the film’s credibility to viewers. Whilst hiccups and imperfections are acceptable – especially in lower budget films – this one crosses a boundary where these distract from the story itself. Sound editing is by far the biggest offender, with poor syncing throughout the short. Camerawork itself is also poor, with certain scenes being ruined by shockingly poor colour saturation that appears amateurish and unbecoming. Visual effects are somewhat redeeming, and provide necessary levels of gore for bloodthirsty viewers. But overall production harms the story rather than serves it.
A Specter Whispers in the Dark has interesting ideas, but fails to live up to its potential as a psychological horror. Clearly a student of the genre, Director Peter Dorn Ravlin demonstrates an awareness of what makes a film stand out, but not what makes one solid and concise. This film is mostly a mess, and not just a bloody one.