Although many folks get irritated when stores start setting up for Christmas even before Halloween, I posit that any time of year is a fine time to watch Christmas-themed horror. The UK short film Deathly Presents is a superb offering in this subgenre.
Written and directed by the team of Ben Franklin and Anthony Melton, Deathly Presents concerns the Christmas Eve of a couple and their young son. At first, the worst thing to happen is that father Rob (Jonah Russell) breaks the news that son Jonny (Oliver Ebsworth) needs to wait until the next morning to open any presents. Then, strange things start happening, including mysterious noises upstairs. When an investigating Rob doesn’t answer his wife Steff’s (Sian Breckin) calls for him, Franklin and Melton crank up the suspense and start leading viewers’ anticipation in different directions, leading up to a fun, creepy climax.
The production values on Deathly Presents are first-rate, something that is to be expected because the short comes from UK-based production company Bloody Cuts (bloodycuts.co.uk), which makes short films that appeal to fans of horror anthology films and TV series. This particular entry feels like a shorter version of something that would fit in perfectly with a modern version of Monsters or Tales from the Darkside, and it would indeed be a treat to see this story expanded, although it works perfectly in its running time of just less than six minutes.
Cowroters and codirectors Ben Franklin and Anthony Melton, who also edited and produced Deathly Presents, give viewers a likable family, well acted by Jonah Russell, Sian Breckin, and Oliver Ebsworth. The filmmakers then put them in predicaments about which we think we can guess, before showing us that our anticipations were wrong and building the story further. Cinematographer Christopher Sharman does an ace job of capturing the proceedings, while the sound design by Franklin and Bill Lee helps build the atmosphere, along with the fitting score. The special effects makeup by Dan Frye is a blast to behold. If you have the same reaction that I did, you will be reaching for your pause button to check out his work in all its glory.
Grue-Believers can watch Deathly Presents here. Enjoy, and make sure to keep watching through the credits!
Deathly Presents: (4 / 5)