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Lion: A Battered Boy Finds an Unusual Form of Vengeance

An abused little boy retreats to a fantasy world in writer/director Davide Melini’s U.K. short horror film Lion, but his violent, drunkard father and intimidated mother (Tania Mercader as Amanda) come face to face with a harsh reality. Lion is still on its film festival run, and has claimed more than 263 awards so far, making it the most-awarded short horror film in history.

After hard-drinking father Jeff (Michael Segal) subjects his son Leon (Pedro Sanchez) to what seems to be the latest of many verbally and physically abusive attacks, he slugs down more alcohol while glued to the television. Leon, whose obsession with lions — he has many toys, posters, and other items depicting his favorite animal — irritates his father, heads to his room and makes a wish that his parents would never beat him again.  Their isolated cabin, deep in snowy woods, is about to be visited by a deadly presence.

Though only about 10 minutes long minus credits, Lion succeeds in fleshing out its characters enough so that viewers instantly sympathize with Leon and have an idea of what his unfortunate family circumstances are like. Besides solid characterization, the short offers some super practical gore effects, and a nice dose of suspense. Some CG effects don’t hold up as well as the practical ones; however, these moments are few, and don’t detract from the overall impact of the film.

Melini’s well-crafted short takes a fantasy approach to the real-life horror of child abuse, but the director has a strong message to kick off the closing credits. Though horror films can be sheer entertainment, efforts like Lion show that they can also be a voice for the greater good.

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 "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" print magazine and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, Ghastly Grinning, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Decades of Horror: The Classic Era" and "Uphill Both Ways" podcasts. Joseph has also written for “Scream” magazine, "Filmfax" magazine, “SQ Horror” magazine, and the websites That's Not Current an HorrorNews.net. He 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.
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 "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" print magazine and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, Ghastly Grinning, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Decades of Horror: The Classic Era" and "Uphill Both Ways" podcasts. Joseph has also written for “Scream” magazine, "Filmfax" magazine, “SQ Horror” magazine, and the websites That's Not Current an HorrorNews.net. He 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.