Writer/director Finn Callan’s U.K. short film Guest is rich in spine-tingling atmosphere, from the bandaged appearance of its protagonist Mary (Melania Crisan) to the heavy sense of dread throughout to the decidedly creepy reason why Mary is in her current state.
Mary has entered, uninvited, the home of a woman (Jessica Munna) after being pursued by something of which she was obviously terrified. When she wakes up later, her wounds dressed, the woman asks her about what happened, but Mary is in no physical or psychological state to talk about it. But viewers get the opportunity to see, and cinematographer Fyodor Houtheusen’s lingering close-ups of the titular entity (Anna Fraser) are hypnotic and unsettling. The sleek, spooky design by prosthetic special effects artist Francesca Giacovelli is truly unnerving.
Callan has crafted a short that builds a claustrophobic world often drenched in ice-cold blue, a perfect match for the chilling goings-on. The sound department’s work is eerily effective and a big part of the Guest’s atmosphere, assisted by the fitting score from Oxxymoron. Crisan is terrific as the frantic, petrified Mary. She is on screen for most of Guest, and carries the short wonderfully.
Callan has introduced a nerve-jangling new supernatural creation with Guest, and although the short is a fine story as is, it is also ripe for a feature-length treatment. Callan has a fine understanding of horror cinema and is a talented filmmaker, and is someone worth keeping an eye out for with his future projects.
Guest screens as part of Arrow Video FrightFest’s 2020 digital edition, which runs from August 28–31.(4 / 5)