JEREMIAH'S TAKE -
"Curiosity killed the cat", so the old adage goes, and it is in the spirit of this that director Timothy Vandenberg's horror short Agatha, presents its disturbingly cruel premise -
The orphan train comes daily, spilling hundreds of children onto the streets of Pennsylvania in the late 1800’s. Desperate and alone, the penniless 7 year old Sophie, entrusts an older woman who hires her to bring food each night to someone living in her attic. There is just one rule: Do not pass the serving table….EVER. As time passes, the child’s curiosity grows bold; drawing her closer to discovering the truth behind the prisoner.
Building suspense by using the ever growing curiosity that comes as a natural result of being told not to do something; we watch helpless, stomach in knots, as the doe-eyed adorable little Sophie (played masterfully by Louise Ogle) works her way towards a bleak inevitability. We know that whoever or whatever it is she's tasked to serve, bears only a base resemblance to a person; vague glimpses at an almost human silhouette do little to mask the fear that's elicited from the inhuman sounds coming from beyond the table. A boundary within which her safety is guaranteed, yet seemingly receding with every new visit. The inevitable, not just for little Sophie, but the audience as well; sharing the same morbid curiosity, we're determined to see this through no matter what conclusion awaits us at the end.
And it's remarkable at how effectively unnerving this little gem of a short film, is capable of being. Showing almost nothing, but instead, allowing our racing minds to fill in the blanks between whatever peek of grotesqueness we are allowed to see. As the end draws near, the anticipation and anxiety reach a fever pitch, and all the components of this - very high quality - production serve to remind us that Vandenberg knows exactly what he's doing, which makes the prospect for the eventual feature-length film, a very positive one.
...oh, did I forget to mention that part earlier? Right right; this condensed exercise in torturous drawn out anticipatory fear, one lasting a measly 9 minutes, is only the stepping stone to a bigger more elaborate project based on the same premise. To think, we barely made it out of this one...
SARAH'S TAKE -
Very creepy, suspenseful atmosphere, with a well written and effective story. My hope is that this will turn Into a feature film that continues what's started here, with a more developed backstory for its character (Louise Ogle's acting is good, her performance helped in allowing me to sympathize with her), while building on the very effective climax and cliffhanger.
Agatha is an effective short film that every horror fan should see.
The film is currently making its festival run, so be on the look-out for a local event hosting the short film. In the meantime, click the image below to view the trailer, and be sure to follow the film on social media here.