KEEP THE GASLIGHT BURNING (October 8th)
YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...
Ok, time was a little short tonight I admit - so instead of watching a feature length film I opted for a short film instead. The length of short films also ranges quite dramatically it must be said and although I was half tempted to tune into one of those two minute micro-films I am not sure I’d have enough to write about. Instead I went for a short that was a time-sapping 18 minutes in length! Short films are one of those mediums that don’t really get enough love in my opinion - and I’m not just saying that because I was short of time! There are advantages to short films from a budgetary point of view, but from a story perspective it can be a little challenging. The best ones are usually the ones that are focused and consistent in terms of message and style. Essentially short movies are often calling cards for directorial talent. One of the Directors of the short I watched is an academy award winner (special effects on Wolfman) so the pedigree is already kind of there.
The film, set in the colonial American era, tells the story of a young maid called Maya who arrives at the household of an eccentric and reclusive old lady called Mrs Maxwell, ready to start her employment. The abrasive cook tells her upon her arrival that there is only one rule that she must always adhere to - that the gaslight in Mrs Maxwell’s chamber must never be allowed to go out. Why? Well Mrs Maxwell soon explains that she is haunted by the ghost of her deceased husband who seeks vengeance on her from beyond the grave. The gaslight is the only think keeping him at bay you see so as long as it is lit then she will be safe. I don’t need to tell you any more than that to be honest, I think you get the gist! I gotta say, this was a lot of fun. The film spends most of it's time building up a sense of anticipation and although there is a rippling of camp running throughout, it's quietly effective in the way it goes about creating a sense of dread. The period setting only adds to the creep factor too – as does Mrs Maxwell (wonderfully played by Markie Post) who cuts quite an unnerving figure with her clouded eye and heavy make-up. She looks like the living version of that woman in black ghost that haunts Patrick Wilson in Insidious. Her delivery is also spot on too. Kate Armstrong-Ross also gives a solid performance as the unsuspecting maid.
Keep the Gaslight On knows that audiences will be hoping for some payoff in the final stages of the film – but it spends most of the running time building up expectations and doesn't show it's hand too soon. When it does, the results are pretty cool from a visual perspective and that's obviously in part down to the practical effects experience of the directors. It's a good looking feature too. I'm a sucker for anything remotely gothic but here the combination of candlelit rooms, general murkiness and rich colours ticked all the right boxes for me. It's also nicely framed and carefully shot, with the husband and wife directorial team proving that they aren't just ace at animatronics and effects.
It all ends in satisfying jumpy fashion too. All in all a fun, creepy 18 minutes and a nice demo of really competent film-making. It's on Amazon Prime – so if you have it, find it, turn your lights off and watch it in the dark. :)