Approximately five minutes’ worth of the bloodiest, creepiest horror you’re bound to see this year await you in the short film It Began Without Warning. This real-time shocker opens with what looks to be the murder of a wife by her husband with their child in danger, and then takes viewers in a whole other direction.

The second short for the writing/directing team of Jessica Curtright and Santiago C. Tapia after their 2013 effort Territorial is a fast-paced, non-stop thrill ride that marvelously offers both a self-contained story and proof of concept for a feature film. The duo combines creepy children with an otherworldly presence and a creature-feature vibe. It’s tried-and-true territory, to be sure, but Curtright and Tapia put an original spin on things and leave me gasping for more. The end credits start off with the subtitle “Phase 1: They Arrive”; I hope that the filmmakers find a way to finance the rest of the phases they have in mind for their outré universe.

The cast does a bang-up job, but the frenetic pacing from the writing/directing team and outrageous set pieces are what drive this nearly dialogue-free short. The gore effects are outstanding, from the initial family horror devastation to an insanely uncomfortable scene involving a pregnant woman, to the creepy reveal of the creatures. Special effects artists Sierra Russell and Josh Russell, whose long list of credits include work on this year’s amazing Sequence Break as well as Beyond the Gates and Southbound, have done incredible work.

It Began Without Warning is currently on its film festival run, including screenings at the recent Fantasia International Film Festival. For more information, check out the short’s official website at and its Facebook page at

(4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry’s formative years were spent watching classic monster movies (starting with "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Godzilla Vs. the Thing") and TV series (starting with "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits"), Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features" and Roy Shires’ Big Time Wrestling (two northern California legends); reading Silver Age and Bronze Age Gold Key, Dell, Charlton, Marvel, and DC comics; and writing mimeographed newsletters about the original "Planet of the Apes" film and TV series. More recently, he has written for "Filmfax" magazine, is the foreign correspondent reporter for the "Horror News Radio" podcast, and is a regular contributing writer to "Phantom of the Movies’s VideoScope" magazine, occasionally proudly co-writing 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.

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