Thursday 9 August 2012

Apparition (2009)

Director: Travis Gerndt
Stars: Kelli Blissard and L Michael Burt

A young multiracial couple get lost in the woods, as young multiracial couples tend to do in short horror films. They're Kristin and Stouder and they end up at an apparently empty cabin, empty that is except for a number of strange dolls scattered on the bed and around the floor, dolls that make strange noises when you tread on them. This pair lie down for the night together but Kristin wakes up alone. Stouder is outside taking a leak and when he gets back, he finds his girlfriend gone and a pair of multiracial dolls on the bed in their place. She becomes the apparition of the title, moving quirkily towards him with a slit throat, because she moved at a quarter speed while the camera shooting her was slowed down to six frames per second. However, not all is what it seems and there's a cool twist to the story to come that turns it into more of an urban legend film. The ten minute running time is relatively unrushed and just seems right.

The man behind the film is Travis Gerndt, who appears late on as a sheriff but is hardly a focal point on screen. However offscreen he did almost everything, presumably building on experience earned as an assistant director, production coordinator or director of photography on a number of films by other people. This is the first he made for himself and he served not just as writer and director, but also as actor, producer, editor and sound technician. Surprisingly for someone who has worked as a DP in the past, he brought in a different DP and someone else to compose the score, but mostly it's his show. The actors on screen don't have much to do, but they're capable. While the film didn't knock my socks off, it's a capable piece, perhaps let down only by some dim lighting in the night scenes. The lack of background to define a framework for the story could be seen by some as a flaw but I think it works generically, as such a generic title would suggest.

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