“REM” (2017): A Woman Tries to Help a Stranger with a Terrible Gift in New Zealand Shocker Short

Gail Morris (writer/director April Phillips) is a security guard who discovers the chilling, but potentially world-changing, secrets of a mute homeless man in the New Zealand horror/science-fiction thriller REM. This offering packs a lot of drama and emotional weight in its running time of approximately 14 minutes.

On her rounds one night, Morris discovers a vagrant man (Chris Ryan) in an abandoned building. He is surrounded by newspaper clippings and wall scrawlings about disasters. Although the man cannot speak, Morris learns that he may hold a certain power that could save countless lives. She alerts a newscaster (Tracey Savage) in an effort to spread the word about what the man can do.

April Phillips gives a first-rate turn as a woman who wants the world to understand what a miraculous help the tortured man can be. She shows her concern for the strange man and the terrible gift he possesses with the perfect level of emotion and stirring facial expressions. Chris Ryan is fantastic as the man in question, going between creepy (one scene in particular where he is menacing Morris is absolutely chilling), sympathetic, vile, and agonized. Savage does a nice job in her briefer role, as well.

April Phillips’ screenplay for REM is well-paced, and she brings her ideas to cinematic life with a deft hand, pacing the proceedings wonderfully. Matthew Sharp’s cinematography looks super, and Tane Upjohn-Beatson’s score adds to the eeriness of the short film.

REM is currently on an award-winning film festival run. For more information including screening dates, visit https://www.facebook.com/REMmovie/.

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.