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Cult Affairs

Critic:

Joe Beck

|

Posted on:

11 Feb 2022

Film Reviews
Cult Affairs
Directed by:
Nate Thompson
Written by:
Nate Thompson
Starring:
Nate Thompson, Nygel Sejismundo, Joshua Moore, Tee Rupp
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Horror has the capacity to scare us in all kind of ways - be it a slow-burning, long lasting horror such as ‘The Exorcist’, a scream-a-minute horror like ‘Halloween’ or an intrinsic, self-analysing horror like ‘Get Out’. ‘Cult Affairs’ manages to tick all three of those boxes in just six short minutes.

 

Written and directed by Nate Thompson, ‘Cult Affairs’ introduces us to Mr James (Nygel Sejismundo), as he’s gagged and bound to a chair, with his life in the hands of a mysterious cult leader (Nate Thompson). Why is he in this dreadful predicament you ask? Well, all we know is that a business arrangement went wrong, we don’t know how it went wrong or what the arrangement was. Often, not disclosing this plot information comes to the detriment of the film, however, in ‘Cult Affairs’ the ambiguous backstory only serves to amp up the terror.

 

The title of the film too, is ambiguous - it doesn’t jump off the page as the title to a horror film, but then, that is the case with many horrors. However, it is the ambiguity of the title which carries into the film which is most interesting. We never discover who the cult are, what they represent or what their ‘affairs’ are - that is aside from kidnapping and torturing Mr James. In fact, the leader is very insistent that they are not even a cult, rather ‘a group of individuals with beliefs’, further developing the sense of ambiguity which engulfs the short.

 

The terror generated through the ambiguous backstory is built upon with overbearing, claustrophobic music - the kind which you just want to shut off. It is loud and foreboding, which, when coupled with the intense darkness of the short instils fear almost immediately. The singular light comes from a candle, illuminating the shadow of the mysterious cult leader, who sits and smokes before the slow, terrifying words come out of his mouth.

 

The orange glow generated by the candle creates ideas that maybe they’re in hell, and maybe the cult leader is the devil. Certainly he acts like the devil, anger pouring out of every word and malicious intent obvious by the sinister tone of his voice. Thompson is downright menacing as the cult leader, and deserves as much credit for his formidable performance as he does for the obvious skill behind the camera on such a small budget.

 

As Mr James Nygel Sejismundo doesn’t have much to except appear scared for his life the entire time, but he does the job well and captures the fear of his character perfectly. It is fear which we, the audience, feel too - fear which lasts for the entirety of the six minutes.

 

That six minutes runtime is the only problem, though honestly its more of a compliment, with ‘Cult Affairs’, it just leaves you wanting more. It’s the kind of film which demands a feature length version though whether it could cross that bridge and still maintain the claustrophobic, close, intimate relationship it has with the viewer would be a challenge. However, its a challenge which given the immense quality of the short, Nate Thompson would be more than capable of.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film