Flash Photo (2020) [Lindsey Productions, LLC]
Overall Rating (1-10): 7.5
Country: USA / Running Time: 7 minutes / MPAA Rating: N/R
Director: William David Glenn
Plot Synopsis: A malcontent Real Estate Photographer takes on a seemingly routine job, but as strange events occur around the house he begins to question his sanity.
Flash Photo begins with an eerie shot of a suburban house at night, the chirping of crickets and the distant cries of what could either be an owl or perhaps a wolf or coyote. Then we jump to a close up shot of a small candle being blown out, which leaves us in total darkness and in a state of mystery.
From there we dissolve to a daytime shot of the same house again with a For Sale sign on the front lawn as a car pulls into the driveway. A middle-aged man gets out of the car looking less than excited to be here, takes a snapshot of the house with his phone, and then proceeds to the trunk. As he enters the empty house we learn that he is a photographer tasked with taking photos of the house, presumably for the online real estate listing. The Photographer (played by Silvio Wolf Busch) proceeds to set up his tripod, affix his lens to his camera and prepare his first shot. From the start, the Photographer does not appear to be enthusiastic about shooting homes for resale and we get the feeling that he is just going through the motions on “just another job.”
The house is very dark, so he uses a flash to illuminate his photographs as opposed to turning on the lights or instituting professional lighting equipment. Beginning in the kitchen, strange and unsettling things start to occur around him, causing his disposition to slowly change from blasé to perplexed to curious and finally to fearful. As he takes photograph after photograph, he starts to hear odd noises around him and sees vague figures illuminated by the vibrant light of the camera’s flash. The film’s tone shift is effectively heightened by the unsettling score (by Michael Vignola) that begins to permeate as the Photographer is increasingly unsettled by the disturbing events unfolding before him. As he seeks out the source of the increasingly disturbing sounds he is hearing, he goes from room to room for answers.
In an effort to preserve the film’s mysteriousness and to ensure that the viewer’s experience is unspoiled, I will not divulge what transpires from here. What I will say is that the film is creepy, with imagery that serves to strike both uneasiness and sheer horror in the audience as we watch the Photographer descend into a state of panic. And as the film’s hero witnesses an increasingly inexplicable series of horrific images, he begins to question his reality. Playing the Photographer, Silvio Wolf Busch brings an “everyman” quality to the character that is immediately relatable, and his performance is especially effective as he begins to spiral into a state of panic and eventual madness. The film’s writer and director, William David Glenn has crafted an ominous short film that successfully envelopes us in dread, while holding back just enough to entice us while posing many questions. The Photographer witnesses some gruesome, disturbing things throughout the film and Glenn’s screenplay, which is low on dialogue, chooses instead to rely heavily on Busch’s ability to tell the story with his eyes and actions, much like in the old days of silent horror films.
For me Flash Photo’s biggest success is its unsettling and progressively-tense atmosphere, which is created by cutting darkness, forbidding music and bizarre images of bloody perturbation and dread. Horror films rely heavily on tone, atmosphere and music, so it was gratifying to see that the film excelled in those areas. But because it was a low budget short film, the audience is left wanting more – which is both a plus and a minus, because even though we enjoyed the ride, it’s length left us a tad unsatisfied, which is often the case with short films. Many are made with the intention of serving as more of a “proof of concept” in the hopes of attracting investors to assist in financing a feature length version of the film. I am unsure if that is the case with Flash Photo, but regardless it mostly stands on its own and for lovers of horror and indie films, this is a cool little film that can be viewed in the time it takes to eat a bowl of cereal.
You can watch the film here: