Julien Neaves, Editor
One of the goals of filmmakers is to elicit specific reactions in the audience. Comedies try to make you laugh, dramas try to make you cry, and horrors try to scare your pants off, figuratively speaking. But how someone reacts is subjective, and what may have one person jumping out of their chair in terror will have another yawning and checking their watch. And with so many horror movies and such deeply entrenched tropes it is a monumental task to give seasoned horror fans, like our Horror Head Writer Sommer (big up yuh whole self Sommer) the proverbial heebies-jeebies. While I’m not a horror expert like her, I have seen my fair share of films from the genre (and its many, many sub-genres) so I write and review from a place of knowledge.
I said all that to say the fact that I was creeped out by Trinidadian horror short Stranger Tings is no small ting (shortening “thing” for “ting” is a Trini ting. #themoreyouknow).
Before we go any further I do have to mention that, despite the title, the film has nothing to do with the massively popular Netflix horror/adventure series Stranger Things, other than doing an homage to its unique opening credits and title design. And being a mega fan of the show I did enjoy that.
Stranger Tings (no ‘h’) tells the story of a young man (Duane Millien) who is home alone playing video games when the electricity goes out. He then begins to experience very strange and inexplicable things. I could say more but I am keeping clear of spoiler territory.
Director Aaron Caruth utilises a minimalist approach to this tight little horror short (it’s just a little over 14 minutes), both in terms of story and production. And I found this approach worked very well. With little lighting, lots of silence and some classic horror techniques, he builds tension to a boiling point before releasing. You know in Jaws how the film is so scary despite rarely seeing the shark? Well there is nothing scarier than what we can concoct in our own imagination, and Caruth provides the audio and visual cues for us to design our very own brand of nightmare fuel. And kudos to the production design because when you do see something it is freaking unnerving.
I enjoyed Stranger Tings more than I thought I would, and I was shocked that it actually scared me somewhat. Sure the main character makes some dumb decisions but that in itself is a horror trope as well. And some people may feel shortchanged by the lack of explanations but I think that mystery works in the film’s favour. So yeah, a very good job on this one. And the opening of the film says “Chapter One” so Caruth leaves the creaky door open to deliver more stranger tings and scares in a sequel.
Julien’s Score: 7 out of 10
You can check out Stranger Tings for yourself here:
Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film, creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”.
I can also be found posting on Instagram as redmanwriter and talking about TV and movie stuff on Facebook at Movieville.