Writer/director Ryan Valdez’s short film We Got a Dog packs a lot of eeriness into its brief running time. Morgan (Morgan Taylor) is flustered that her boyfriend Mason (Mason Conrad) is running late at his bartending job, but he assures her on a phone call that he will be home as soon as he can. Imagine her surprise, then, when she gets home, and he is waiting there for her, and he has another surprise for her — he tells her that he brought home a dog for them.
This being a horror short, readers might guess that something is amiss, and they would be right. Valdez, who was the cinematographer on The Virus, Eaters, and Day of the Mummy, slowly reveals one odd incident after another — from strange sounds in another room to visual oddities that happen so quickly you might miss them if you’re not watching closely — as he constantly builds mystery and dread.
Despite being just over 5 minutes long, the slow reveals make the short feel much longer, in the best possible ways. The story is simple, lean and mean, but highly effective. The set design, like the story itself, is rather simple, but it is the something enigmatic lurking just beyond the kitchen in which much of the short is set that provides an unsettling feeling.
Well acted and directed with some goosebumps-inducing special effects, We Got a Dog, winner of this year’s Scariest Short Film Prize at Popcorn Frights, comes strongly recommended.(4 / 5)
We Got a Dog screened as part of Popcorn Frights, which took place as a hybrid event, in person in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and with a virtual program online, from August 11–August 21, 2022. For more information, visit https://popcornfrights.com/.