Sometimes working on overcoming an obsession can lead to possibilities beyond a person’s imagination. In the case of Parker (Charlotte Lindsay Marron), the young teenaged protagonist of the Canadian short film Lay Them Straight, those possibilities can even lead to a terrifying new path.
Parker is diagnosed with arithmomania, a disorder in which people feel the need to count actions or objects. This causes her some problems, including bullying from three girls at her school. She tells her therapist Dr. Tracy (Ayesha Mansur Gonsalves) that she does this to prevent bad things from happening. When the doctor advises Parker to try not counting things the next day, a series of events occur including her mother Lynn (Marie Ward) being hospitalized after an accident. It is then that Parker discovers a dark secret.
Marron is terrific as Parker, wonderfully embodying her character with a realistic sense of a youngster expressing obsessive-compulsive tendencies. The rest of the cast is fine, as well, including Ward as Parker’s loving, supportive mother, and Erika Swayze as Christine, leader of the mean-girls trio.
Writer/director Robert Deleskie has crafted a nifty horror short that invests viewers in its main character before starting its suspenseful build. He focuses on psychological horror rather than visceral shocks, and uses effective sound design and sparing practical effects to deliver jolts and tension, right up to the chilling last frame.
Lay Them Straight is currently on its film festival run, and is a coming-of-age horror short that comes highly recommended by this reviewer. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/laythemstraightmovie/
Lay Them Straight won the Best Short award at the The Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival, which was held November 22–27 at The Royal Cinema in Toronto.
(4 / 5)