A beautiful teenager, Jess bounds through a forest being pursued by the machete-wielding Sack Head – who proves to be more of a danger to himself than the feisty Jess.
Having just bagged Best Director Award at the Peninsular Short Film Fest, supported by Australian heavyweighters such as Russell Crowe and Sam Worthington, it should be pretty safe to assume that Sean Lahiff’s latest short film, ‘Too Dark,’ is something special, right?
Having seen it, I can tell you it absolutely is…
No newcomer to movies, especially those of a genre kind, Lahiff is quickly becoming a sought-after editor, having amassed an impressive number of feathers in his cap working on the likes of Prometheus, The Babadook, and most recently, the upcoming Screentime television adaptation of Wolf Creek.
So many filmmakers have come a cropper when trying to roast slasher tropes in horror/comedy crossovers so coming up with a winning formula was always going to require one hell of a lot of gumption. Fortunately, director Lahiff and screenwriter Dave Haddin have concocted a stainless short that manages to meticulously cram in equal parts hair-raising horror and priceless puns. Clocking in at a mere 7 minutes, Lahiff doesn’t mess around and provides a taut homage and self-aware parody that strips away all the supernatural trappings of slasher tropes to reveal a much more relatable story of a half-baked killer with “prodigious” plans to be the next great horror icon.
What’s so special about ‘Too Dark’ is the fact that, even though we get up close and personal with Sack Head (Brendan Rock [Snowtown]), Rock cleverly contains his performance, making sure nothing gets overcooked; something that is always tough to pull off when spooky gives way to spoofy. And then Sarah Jeavons (Inner Demon) puts in a just as unprecedented performance as Jess, the “final girl.” The two actors riff off of each other amazingly well and it’s their chemistry and natural candour that make sure the comedic tones never fall flat. No surprises from me as to why Jeavons took home the South Australian Screen Award for ‘Best Performer.’
The short’s effectiveness is also buoyed by Lahiff’s keen eye and Nima Nabili Rad’s photography, with the both of them demonstrating machete-sharp restraint of the whole sinister, yet at the same time tongue-in-cheek vibe going on to make sure a Scary Movie sigh-inducer this ain’t.
Audiences are in for a non-stop seven minute ramble through the woods, jam-packed with sharp-witted stabs at the slasher genre. An ultimate masterclass in short form horror comedy, ‘Too Dark’ is a must for fans (and non-fans) of the genre…
Words: Howard Gorman (@HowardGorman)