A young girl finds herself caught between her religious beliefs and a very Earthly evil in writer/director Stellan Kendrick’s horror short Goodnight, Gracie (2017). Though less than four minutes long, the film creates a looming sense of dread and packs quite a wallop in a stunningly presented effort.
Elementary school-aged Gracie (Caige Coulter) is resting in her room when she hears a commotion downstairs. Clutching her stuffed lamb and Jesus flashlight, she investigates, only to find that her stepfather Billy (Courtney Gaines, genre stalwart of Children of the Corn fame) is hacking her mother (Zoë Simpson Dean) to pieces with an axe. It’s a grisly sight, and the first clue for viewers that anything goes in this short. Needless to say, Billy eyes Gracie as his next target.
Stellan Kendrick wrings maximum suspense out of his film, and the sound design is a big part of Goodnight, Gracie’s effectiveness. The moody lighting is another powerful factor, as are S. Peace Nistades’ haunting score and Julia Swain’s captivating cinematography.
Caige Coulter’s performance is outstanding. Her portrayal of a terrified child who prays for safety as a murderous maniac tries to break into her bedroom is heart-wrenching. Coulter has 35 film credits to her name already, and a bright future in acting ahead of her. Courtney Gaines, who has shown that he can play comedy and drama as well as horror fare, turns in an absolutely blood-chilling performance here.
Stellan Kendrick has crafted a truly disturbing horror short grounded in reality. The premise of a child being stalked by a madman is troubling enough, but add to that the fact that the protagonist saw this man as a parental figure, and things become even more unsettling. Kendrick also adds some commentary about religion to Goodnight, Gracie, which is certain to spark some discussion among viewers.
Goodnight, Gracie will receive its world premiere at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival in October. For more information, visit the film’s official website at https://www.goodnightgraciefilm.com/ or its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GNGraciefilm/.
(3.5 / 5)