Horror is a format that is well suited for a shorter length; forgoing characters or plot development for straight terror is a time honored method that’s created some of the most bone chilling experiences ever made. While there is certainly no shortage of excellent horror delivered in 15 minutes or less floating around the web, I will say that Defiant Image’s The Smiling Man is one of the best I’ve seen in awhile.
Not to be confused with the also excellent 2AM, Smiling Man is one hell of a horror short that manages to convoke a wide range of fear and layers of atmosphere in it’s all to short running time. From the very first frame as that poor girl watches her creepy 1920’s cartoons, there’s something exceptionally wrong with what should be a portrait of innocence. Superb sound design, inventive cinematography and jump scares that for once are actually earned, all add up to make this a film you’ll want to watch with the lights turned low and the volume bumping.
While the second half does fall victim to a mild case of cliché and a monster that is scarier in the shadows than out in plain site, The Smiling Man still quite efficiently turned my grin into a grimace of terror. Any horror fan with seven minutes to spare, and a desire for pure fear and heart palpitations would do well to give this little film a watch.
Jeffrey Scott is Head writer for The Blood Shed and eats, drinks, and bleeds horror. You can send him hurtful messages at Headoasp@gmail.com or help promote the comic he’s helping to produce here.
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Really enjoyed that, fantastic work!