As Paranormal Activity proved, a good ghost story doesn’t require a big budget or fancy toychest filled with expensive special effects. Turn off the lights, make a few inhuman noises, move a random object where it doesn’t belong and even the bravest of filmgoers will find some goosebumps on their arms.
Todd Miro’s Enter the Dark, a 17 minute short film, taps into our innate fear of dark corners with mysterious whispers. The story focuses on two friends spending Friday night with a pizza, six pack, and video camera. Charles (Charles Yoakum) is convinced his new home is haunted, so much so that his wife and kids refuse to live there. Based on a few sound recordings and temperature readings, he and dubious pal Rob (Rob Sandusky) take a few cues from cable ghost-hunting shows to identify the spirit.
Like most ghost stories, Enter the Dark is less about the mysterious narrative than how it unfolds. Miro takes great care in establishing the atmosphere, creating a believably light-hearted Friday night that turns, in less than 20 minutes, into something truly terrifying. We’ve seen our share of night-cam horror films and know some of their tricks–watch the background for quick scares, listen for scuttles, etc.–but Miro executes his horror quite well, even throwing in a few surprising twists along thew way.
Take, for example, the first punch of eeriness, where Charles discovers an audio kid’s book with a voice of its own. It’s an easy, fairly low budget technique to have a recorded child’s voice speak in creepy giggles but that doesn’t make it any less unnerving when the lights are off.
As a short, Enter the Dark is a promising preview of Todd Miro’s potential, mired only slightly by some stiffness in the dialogue (the excessive cursing never quite rings true). Perhaps more excitingly, it’s also a frightening little slice of haunted house cinema that easily stands on its own for a good old fashioned scare.
Enter the Dark will premiere at the Chicago Horror Film Festival on Sunday, September 26th at 9:20 PM. To learn more about future screenings, visit the official website at http://www.enterthedarkmovie.com.