When it comes to horror, my philosophy is less is more.
That is why in lieu of most graphic gorefests, I gravitate toward more subtle narratives that mine horror from the deepest, darkest recesses of the human psyche.
The short film IT HAPPENED ON ORCHARD STREET is an outstanding example of how affecting psychological horror can be.
Written and directed by Scott Jeschke, the short opens on a very ominous note.
A man named Walter (Luke Persiani) arrives back at his apartment with his hands covered in blood. This unsettling visual cue immediately sets the tone for the film.
Visibly upset, Walter washes the blood from his hands, but it is quite evident he has either been the victim or perpetrator of recent violence.
Walter attempts to settle in for the evening, but he soon has the disturbing realization he is not alone in his tiny apartment.
Jeschke masterfully uses color, light, and shadow to create ever-mounting dread and tension - without a word of dialogue ever spoken.
One memorable scene is when Walter is washing the blood from his hands in his kitchen sink.
The juxtaposition of the sunshine-yellow colored backsplash with the crimson hue of the blood is a striking visual composition straight from Alfred Hitchcock’s playbook. It perfectly symbolizes the jarring intrusion of chaos into Walter’s usually neat and ordered world.
In Jeschke’s hands even the usually mundane sound of a teakettle is transformed into an unnerving aural assault.
However, the cinematography is the biggest hallmark of this short.
Walter’s apartment is shrouded in shadow, which is used to incite tension and anxiety in both the protagonist and the viewer.
I would be very remiss if I did not call out the terrific performance Persiani gives as Walter. Without speaking a word, he conveys the protagonist’s fear and angst solely by using his body language and facial expressions - signs of a skilled actor.
IT HAPPENED ON ORCHARD STREET is stylish psychological horror evocative of the genre’s best.
Watch the complete short film here…
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