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average rating is 5 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

Sep 10, 2023

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Robbie J. Atkinson
Written by:
Robbie J. Atkinson, J.E. Atkinson
Raiany Silva, Sheila Ball. Joana Cruz

It’s well known that the greatest horror is generally psychological. The horror within can inspire fear far greater than anything that resides outside the corporeal, and often is the cause of such external horrors as spiders or snakes or sharks. Our mind is the source of all human fear, whether directly or indirectly, and as psychology and scientific understanding has become more developed, so have horror films and, perhaps more significantly, horror literature, to focus more on a psychological terror and how that is linked to the fears that exist outside our own bodies.


‘Kalimba’ blends the psychological and the physical fears exquisitely, creating a short horror film high on thrills, full of nervous tension, and with some excellent direction. The film focuses on a young woman, Cassidy (Raiany Silva), and her haunted psychological state, as she battles a sleep paralysis demon. Cassidy’s reality and dream state converge more and more, becoming blended and more confused, as her terrors transfer to her reality, leading her to the black sheep of the family to try and solve her troubles.


Perhaps the aspect about ‘Kalimba’ that is most immediately striking is the sound design. Beginning with the sound of heavy breathing, and the deep, intimidating voice of a demon saying ‘look at me’ the sound design is always going to be immediately apparent, but in ‘Kalimba’ it is sustained to a high quality throughout. Sound is used excellently to create suspense and and to the terror of a scene, and even in the quiet scenes, in which there is no horror, at least no horror of note, to be found, the sound design continues to be impressive.


Another aspect of ‘Kalimba’ which is exceptional is the directing by Robbie J. Atkinson, who handles the camera with the right balance of verve and composure in order to set up a number of thrills and suspenseful moments. Atkinson’s use of jump shots to create horror are surprisingly effective, where so often they can be comical and come across as cheap, and the use of lighting is genuinely phenomenal. Dim purple, yellow, and green lighting with the silhouette of Cassidy dancing, or screaming in the dark, outline the dreamlike state perfectly, whilst adding to the creepy atmosphere of Cassidy’s home, which she shares with her mum (Sheila Ball), who is largely absent and distant from her daughter.


‘Kalimba’s quality further grows through its script, which is dynamite, both in terms of dialogue, and in terms of authenticity. The dialogue zings between characters, particularly in the interactions between Cassidy and friend Esther (Joana Cruz), which is both integral to outlining the breaking down of reality and psychological barriers, as well as playing as extremely funny - to the credit of the two young actresses whose chemistry is extremely strong. Indeed, the acting throughout is compelling, with Raiany Silva giving a particularly captivating performance in the lead role as Cassidy, handling both lighter moments, and those that require bursts of emotion to engaging effect. This is what happens when good actors are given a good script to work with - excellent performances in a good horror film.


‘Kalimba’ is an excellent psychological horror. High on thrills and suspense, and complete with excellent direction and an intriguing script, with a superb lead performance. ‘Kalimba’ soars in its exploration of sleep paralysis and its breaking down of reality, and outlines the quality of its filmmakers in its technical aspects.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film
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