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Horror, short and sweet

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.  

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