happiness, spirited away


Director: M W Daniels

Writer: M W Daniels

Stars: Emma DarkHelen StephensJane Garda 



A tragic atmospheric short which attempts to pluck hard on the heart strings. M.W. Daniels' House of Lexi sports a rather abstract narrative allowing for its audience to emotionally project onto the events occurring within. And unless you're blessed to have never been tested by the trials and tribulations of life, you won't have to dig deep to find a place where this kind of pain is understood, even relatable. Loss, profound loss, cuts like little else.

House of Lexi follows the story of Lexi Stone, a woman struck by grief (her mother is assumed to have died in a car accident, while her baby sister was lost during child birth). Lexi imagines her sister growing up, and wants nothing more than to be there for her, but the emotional bond which ties them together soon gives way to a haunting turn, causing Lexi to question her reality


House of Lexi is shot to match the mood it hopes to evoke. Long gazing pans across barren beach shores, lingering medium and close-ups give away us a better sense of Lexi Stone's anguish. While some moments pull away from sunlight and push into darkness, further adding to the bleak atmosphere. Interesting enough, it's graded in such away that the film leans heavy on either warm hues or cold ones. There's emotional duality at play with the visuals, making many of its moments feel bittersweet.

It's also worth noting just what a large a role the score has in contributing to the atmosphere. Heavy, overbearing, and foreboding, Daniels does a fantastic job here really laying it on thick, and as a result, the music almost becomes a character in it's own right.


Performances are unfortunately a bit of a mixed bag, never quite reaching the heights of the film's technical prowess as a result. Thankfully, it's lead actress Emma Dark (who plays the titular Lexi) that turns in the strongest one, demonstrating pain, anger, and longing in her disconnected state. No surprise; we've seen Dark in other shorts before (including those directed by her) and she's never disappointed. Jane Garda too, does well in her brief role, lending real urgency to an emotionally crucial scene which hits midway through. Unfortunately her counterpart Sean Francis Mclaughlin, can't seem to match her energy, inadvertently sapping some of the power from the moment they share together. The rest of the cast are brief in appearance, but do a respectable enough job with what they have.

Ultimately it comes back to Lexi Stone and her tragedy. The short is thankfully strong in this regard, specifically in its power to leverage the medium and paint an emotionally striking melancholic haunt-of-a-drama.