Natalie Erika James’s latest short film Creswick is a meditative, moody story of a haunted family. The supernatural goings-on here are not of the scream-in-your-face variety; they are of the chilling, shudder-inducing kind that stay with viewers long after the final frame.
Australian production Creswick follows Sam (Dana Miltins), who has returned to her childhood home to help her father Colin (Chris Orchard) pack up the family belongings. He has decided to sell the house. When Sam asks him why, he replies that she may have been on to something when she was young and disliked spending time there. He has noticed mysterious things happening and even the dog is spooked; “It’s like someone else is living here,” he says.
Sam knows what he is talking about. Earlier, she found a sketchbook from her childhood with a mysterious, dark figure looming in the tree-lined distance in one drawing. This presence may still be wandering around the home.
With Creswick, Natalie Erika James examines similar themes to the ones in her debut short, Tritch (reviewed here). Both short films balance drama and elements of the supernatural, with special attention paid to the main female characters confronting the things that haunt them. Here, James’s growing talent and confidence as a filmmaker is on display. She keeps her shots steady and unflinching, occasionally using slow pans for startling or mysterious reveals, working marvelously in tandem with cinematographer Charlie Sarroff. James also edited the short, and cowrote the screenplay with Christian White. The captivating sound design and Nathan Liow’s score fit Creswick’s somber mood perfectly. Dana Miltins is splendid as Sam, showing both the strength and fear that inhabit her character. Chris Orchard is also solid as Colin, a spirited but wearied man.
Creswick has its world premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival in August. For more information about that screening and future ones, visit https://www.facebook.com/creswickfilm/ – and watch for forthcoming projects from Natalie Erika James, as I predict a bright future for her in the world of cinema.
Creswick: (4 / 5)