Agatha is the first horror short I’ve screened this year. (even though it was out in 2016) Reviewing horror shorts can be tricky. Sometimes there is too much revealed, because of the short time allotted, and some films are just so vague that I don’t really get the story. Neither of these problems apply to Agatha. Directed by Timothy Vandenberg, Agatha is a true horror gem. Running at just 8 minutes, there is just enough story to scare and creep out an audience, but enough left to the imagination for us to be satisfied, or even want more. Knowing that there is talk of making this into a feature length film, makes my horror heart beat faster!
Not only a masterful horror short, Agatha, is also a beautifully done period piece. The film is set in the late 1800s in Pennsylvania. Getting all the correct details for the props, set design, costumes and dialects, etc… are so important for us to buy into a historical film, and that was done so well! I really felt like I stepped back in time for a moment.
So, what is Agatha about? A dirty little orphan girl named Sophie (played by Louise Ogle) is hired to deliver food to someone or something, living upstairs in the attic of a huge mansion. Sophie is offered pennies to take the food upstairs, put it on the bedside table and come back down. The rules are no talking, never make a sound, and don’t go around to the other side of the bed table or near the bed. Sophie, as most little children would be, is a bit bored by the instructions, but repeats them back to the matron of the house (Penny Kohut) and promises. With that, she is given a plate of raw food to take upstairs.
The lighting in the attic is dark and foreboding. It helps builds the tension, as day after day we see Sophie take the food up, and we get tiny glimpses of what is on the bed; a bloody foot connected to a chain, a claw like hand reaching for the food, the labored breathing of a sick person or creature.
Without spoiling, I can’t say too much more, but Sophie’s face, when she sees what is in the room due to a flash of lightening, and her realization of what has happened is perfect! We know what is going to occur just a split second before she does! Monsters can be tricky! The scene at the end by the gate, give us closure as to what we think happened, really did. Vandenberg did the editing himself, and the careful timing and great cinematography are what makes this film work. I also must give kudos to little Louise Ogle. Her acting was terrific. What she lacked in actual dialogue, we saw in her expressions! Even though we don’t see her very much, Agatha herself (Renee Farrabow) deserves a creepy shout out too!
All in all, Agatha is a horror success. Everything worked so well and I’m really interested to see a finished feature length version of this, so we can find out more about Agatha!
At this writing, I don’t have info on where it will be shown next. It will likely be at other film fests, as it was here in LA at Screamfest. More info can be found on the Agatha Facebook page.
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