One of the best thing about watching horror shorts is that you rarely know what to expect before you do. This is because the trailers can’t give too much away, because of the length of the feature and also because a lot of the time, they tend to either be from an established director trying their hand at something a little different and perhaps experimental, or be from up and coming directors.
This was the case before I watched Latched, from directors Justin Harding and Rob Brunner and for this reason, the sense of mystery already in the short film was made more palpable. Inspired by circumstances in the directors’ real lives – in a meta rather than an adapted from a true story way – Latched is about the world of single mother Alana and her 14-month-old son Bowen (both of whom share their names with the actors who play them). They find themselves alone during off-season on an island cottage, with only a strange old neighbour for company. Alana is a choreographer looking to get back into the dance profession and uses her time of solitude to practice her moves and prepare for a new adventure involving an experimental dance company. Then on a walk in the woods with Bowen, they discover the decomposing remains of a very unusual creature.
One of the first things that strikes you about this short is the cinematography, which is both highly professional and polished. There’s also clever, bold humour, intrigue, a captivating atmosphere and sound design and a soundtrack that enhances the sinister mood of the story. The film also feels very fresh and original. It uses visual snapshots as a device to show the passing of time and also visual representations of the psychological landscapes of the characters involved. Taking influence from Cryptozoology and its associated dark fairytales and showcasing extremely impressive practical effects, Latched excels at delving into the fierce and strong aspects of the mother instinct and using the power related to it to disturb and thrill in equal measure.
LATCHED is directed by Justin Harding and Rob Brunner and stars Alana Elmer, Bowen Harding and Peter Higginson. It premiered last weekend at TIFF.