[Review] Lay Them Straight (The Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival): Counting Keeps the Bad Things Away

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 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes 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.