In response to Truly Frightening 161 Second Horror Film:
There’s so much the creators of “Lights Out” are doing right. I might quibble a bit with a grown adult hiding from the unknown beneath her bedsheets in such a situation, but the brevity of the short-film format makes it less of a consideration. Besides, most of us make questionable decisions when freaked out, especially when we’re not sure exactly what we just saw.
Half-glimpsed mysteries and unsettling, incongruous images are so much scarier than the usual jump cuts and shrieking soundtracks. I’ve enjoyed some of the successful long-form movies that went for slow, atmospheric builds over slasher-movie histrionics. Graceful horror is back in vogue, from “The Conjuring” and “Insidious” to the more effective passages of the “Paranormal Activity” franchise.
Many long-form directors could learn a lot by studying these horror shorts. If there’s one thing that really kills a good spooky story, it’s bloat. Many a good short film has lost its way when inflated to feature length – “Mama” is a recent example. The more you know about the menace, the less menacing it becomes.