“The Conductor” (2015): Masked Force of Malevolence Drives Young Woman to Violence


Director Jared Bentley’s short film The Conductor is a taut science fiction/horror thriller that brings modern technology to Mabusean machinations.

Helen (Jessica Richards) wakes up one morning with a strange electronic device on her back. Suddenly the gadget fires up and she finds her body being controlled by a mysterious force. She can do nothing to fight the electronic commands. The audience sees that a curiously masked person is behind this plot. Jessica is forced to leave her home and commit an act of violence.

Helen (Jessica Richards) wakes up in her usual manner one morning, but seconds later, the title character of The Conductor changes her life forever.

Jessica Richards wonderfully conveys Helen’s desperate fight to regain power over her own body through her facial expressions that run through a gamut of emotions, including  fear and grief. Only one other actor appears on screen for a speaking role; Diana Aeris plays Katie, a friend and coworker of Helen’s. She acquits herself well though her screen time is brief. To speak of what The Conductor looks like and does would give away too much, so I’ll simply state that the uncredited actor  does fine here. Jessica Richards has the vast majority of screen time and she proves herself quite capable of keeping viewers intrigued.

There isn’t a lot of dialogue in The Conductor. It’s aurally driven by Jonathan LaCroix’s nifty score that’s heavy on synthesizers. His music provides a dynamic edge to the proceedings.

Helen’s friend Katie (Diana Aeris) finds her daily work routine interrupted thanks to The Conductor’s Mabusean machinations.

The screenplay is cowritten by director Jared Bentley with Darrin Scane and Eric C. Storlie, all of whom previously worked together on the horror short Covetous (2013). The trio has crafted a gripping five-and-a-half-minutes-long chiller that focuses on a lone girl’s plight yet opens up the villain’s potential to larger deeds. The Conductor is both a self-contained story and an invitation for a full-length feature. It clicks on both levels.

I wondered about the necessity of and reasoning behind The Conductor’s attire (again, I am avoiding spoilers) and I noticed some minor continuity issues between our viewpoint and his, but those are mere quibbles. Jared Bentley and his crew have made a slick, entertaining short that I heartily recommend. Make sure to stick around after the impressive ending credits.

Conductor: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.