Nocturne, the latest short film from writer/director Michael Trainotti, is a superb effort that takes the “Don’t open the door to strangers” motif to terrifying extremes.
Erin (Sabrina Howells, who has appeared in previous Trainotti short films Beneath the Surface  and One Dark Night ) has just had a rough night arguing on a phone chat app with boyfriend Rick (Brian Palatucci, also of those two previous Trainotti shorts) when a news bulletin about mysterious women ringing doorbells appears on television. Soon enough, a girl seemingly in bad shape (Megan Rach of Scream Until You Like It  and Hide and Seek ) appears at her door, desperate to come inside.
Max Margolin’s cinematography is terrific here, capturing all the action from a wide variety of levels and angles, including a tense floor-level sequence. The girl’s first appearance on Erin’s doorbell cam is decidedly creepy, achieved simply enough through a great close-up shot and washed-out lighting. The score by Craig Davis, Kingsley Paul Grant, and Trainotti adds wonderfully to the eeriness of the proceedings.
Nocturne’s set-up and story are simple enough, but the top-notch execution breathes new energy into things, with Howells giving an engaging performance as a woman who goes from angry to terrified at the click of a home surveillance video. Rach is solid, too, as a seemingly injured and distressed woman pleading for assistance.
Trainotti does a plum job with the suspenseful timing in Nocturne. Although the short is only about 11 minutes long before the end credits roll, he and his cast and crew manage to make the protagonist feel sympathetic and her situation seem relatable and scary within the first few minutes, and the nail-biting rest is classic scare fare.
Nocturne screens at Wreak Havoc Horror Film Fest, where it is has received nominations for Best Short Film, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. The festival runs at Red Cinemas in Greensboro, North Carolina, on September 20 and 21.
(4 / 5)