Enter the Dark (2010)
Directed by Todd Miro
My one success story that I brought to the horror blogosphere was getting some buzz and attention for Alex Horwitz's short Alice Jacobs is Dead.
Shorts are the quickest way to get an indie filmmaker's talent some buzz and with Enter the Dark, Todd Miro (who was the producer and editor for Elisabeth Fies' cult-thriller The Commune) does just that.
So does this Paranormal Activity lite short reinvent the ghost haunted house genre and take it into new territory?
My quick hit answer is "ehhh not really but sorta." It's a quick 18 min and some of the interactions between our main characters Rob and Charles are funny and slightly suspenseful. It's slickly produced, some of the scenes are new and inventive and put a chill down my spine. But here's the thing. If say they did this a few years ago, I'd be glowing about Enter the Dark but Paranormal Activity single handily rebooted the POV/shaky cam haunted house genre and unfortunately now all other films in this genre have to be compared to it.
That's not to say Enter the Dark didn't do things to scare the bejesus out of me.
Enter The Dark is a short film that takes you into the dark recesses of a haunted house and the even darker fathoms of the human soul. Although it may seem similar to Paranormal Activity and Blair Witch Project, its sensibilities are really rooted in films like The Haunting, Poltergeist and especially The Exorcist, Alien, and The Shining.
I'd have to say the best parts of the short are the very Rated R conversations between Rob (Rob Sandusky) and Charles (Charles Yoakum). Some of the light hearted conversation is hilarious and had me LOL-ing. The short forces you to get all chummy with these buddies but soon it's Mulder and Scully time as Charles has an X-File he needs help with.
His house is haunted and he tries to make Rob believe this is such. His initial evidence? A strange video recording. This leads to a walk around the house with a video camera POV (the film also is shot regularly which should relieve the nauseous viewer). Soon our duo are hearing voices, feeling cold spots and in one stellar scene communicate with the ghost via a children's audio book This scene works beautifully and I admit I got a little freaked out.
Check out the scene here:
However, we also get our standard cliches in the mix. A locked door, some toy stacking and some written mirror messages (thank the movie gods Miro didn't put in a mirror scare). It's all your standard stuff that have seen before. My hope was that though this was in the same vain as PA, it would try to do things slightly differently to scare us. Basically, the scare factors here in Enter the Dark hit average, a baseball average of .333.
My only other gripe was the acting and dialogue. It's not bad bad but there seemed to be some over explaining. A rule in filmmaking is to never talk about what you're doing and at times this is what happens. Also the performances are adequate yet both Rob and Charles don't seem frightened by something very frightening. The charm is Rob is Scully-ing as far as he can go even though the evidence that's stacked in front of him is overwhelming.
My final issue is with the ending which employs an interesting twist. The ending shows a little too much visually and I'd hope we wouldn't actually "see" what the audience is dying to see. I may be nitpicking but that's the point of an effective ghost story is to let your imagination make up the monster in your head.
The film is very well produced and shot. The fact it was shot in Todd Miro's actual house (much to his wife's displeasure) gives it such an authentic quality that can't be duplicated. A fast 35mm lenses and a Sony HD infra-red camcorder were used and you can tell by the quality of the visuals. It's edited nicely so the long suspenseful build shots are drawn to a nicely edited switching between the 2 POVs.
Enter the Dark is an effective short in this post Paranormal Activity age. There are always new ways to amp up the scare quotient and Todd Miro and his crew do this effectively. I just needed to see more and by more I mean scenes that were creatively scary. There's some good stuff to make a feature and this genre is definitely prime to get some new blood in it.
Hopefully, Todd Miro is the man to do it.
The ghost talks via book (hell it could have been a Kindle)
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
So where can you see this short? The film will be screening at the Chicago Horror Film Festival on Sunday, Sept. 26th. It's also been submitted to various other festivals including Screamfest and Slamdance.
Check out the official site for more information and also check out Todd Miro's blog Into the Abyss. Also you can check out the opening scene on Vimeo
Check out the trailer below.