The Days God Slept (2013) – By Roger Carpenter

Early in this 10-minute short, John (Malcolm Madera), a customer in a strip club, muses, "We believe in ghosts and specters, shadows, angels and demons…" which hints at why this particular club is special. John has not only discovered a club he cannot stay away from, but he has also discovered a special girl in Kristy (Lauren Fox) whom he is drawn to each night. But Kristy has a secret that threatens to end whatever tenuous relationship the two have developed: "I tried to tell you the pretty way," she warns him as he reassures her she can tell him anything. He changes his mind soon enough as the story unfolds, but too late as she has gathered steam and the story has attracted an audience that includes many more than just the infatuated John. Hers is a story of base desire and lust, a sex- and drug-fueled orgy that isn’t going to end well for Kristy…or for John.

The Days God Slept is a remarkably atmospheric and highly effective film, from the smart writing and subtle acting to the superb score and artfully-crafted lighting and cinematography. I first became acquainted with cinematographer Dominic Sivilli’s work on a low-budget horror film called The Big Bad. His camera work was remarkable in The Big Bad, and in The Days God Slept he proves once again a superb talent. Sivilli’s camera stalks the characters voyeuristically using fluid, tracking shots and creepy slow-motion. The atmosphere of the strip club is a character unto itself, filled with deep, smoky blue hues and a soft-focus that lends the film a Twilight Zone feel. The net effect is of an otherworldly place populated not just by mortals but by the aforementioned angels and demons as well. Lukas Hassel co-stars as the satanic Carl, the club owner, who is never really paying attention to Kristy but always seems to catch her eye. His black grin and blacker nail polish is highlighted each time the pair’s eyes meet, with Carl ominously covering his eyes with a hand and peeking through his fingers, as if to say, "Remember I am everywhere…there is no escape for you." Lauren Fox as Kristy exudes sexuality as well as pity. While not the prototypical stripper, one gets the feeling she has had to learn how to please others in order to make it in the world–and she learned quite well as she gyrates and spins on John’s lap. Yet it is clear she also has a dark side–one that is exposed during the film–and now she is trapped, doomed to serve Carl and his evil whims. Malcolm Madera is also exceptional as the nervous character of John who is drawn to the club and to Kristy as a fly is to a spider’s web. His understated performance as a nervous, white-collar type unfamiliar with the dark world he is now in perfectly balances Fox’s sultry performance.

Harry Manfredini, perhaps best known for his genre scores including Friday the 13th and its sequels, here proves once again why he is a master at creating musical suspense. His score blends perfectly with the noir-like lighting, elevating the film from creepy to downright unsettling. It is a brilliant yet subtle score.

Joseph Fiorillo, who seems to be a newcomer to the film scene, has written an atmospheric tale that is also quite smart. Fiorillo exhibits some maturity and avoids the common pitfall of attempting to explain everything to the viewer, instead intentionally allowing some ambiguity in the film which allows for different interpretations of the events. Jeremiah Kip, also a veteran of The Big Bad as well as numerous other films, does a superb job of directing the film. Kip has created a world that exudes evil, and does so with stylish flair. His choice to depict everyone but Kristy and her customer as non-speakers not only focuses the story on these two characters but also lends an otherworldly feeling to the entire proceeding. The viewer is drawn into Kristy’s story only to later discover the entire club is also now focused on the end of her tale. Everyone in the club has stopped what they were doing and are now listening and watching Kristy and John. It is an absolutely frightening revelation.

The Days God Slept is a fantastic and genuinely chilling thriller. The film has just been completed. For more information or to view the trailer see http://www.laurenrayner.com/thedaysgodslept/trailer.html.