A brother and sister’s decision to play an infamous scary childhood game comes back to haunt them in the short horror, The Madame in Black.
We have seen and heard of similar tales before – saying the name of some mythological figure three times in a mirror will result in said being coming to haunt, stalk and kill you. See Candyman and Bloody Mary for examples. Now, we have The Madame in Black – a woman who was supposedly burned alive at the stake in 1633 for witchcraft and the murder of her own family.
Brother and Sister, Alex and Emma decide to play the game one day, using a mirror they found in the grandmother’s basement. This, we find out later, resulted in Alex see something in the reflection, though he is not sure what and nobody believes him too. Years later, when the siblings are fully grown, Alex presents his sister with the very same mirror as a birthday gift. Along with their partners, Sarah and Harry, the group decide to once again chant for The Madame in Black to the mirror – and that’s when all hell breaks loose.
Alex and Sarah’s car is forced off the road, after the latter swerves so not to hit something, Emma starts to hear voices and soon, bodies start to pile up. Quite a lot happens for just a runtime of twenty three minutes and, even though the short horror film does cross the cliché boundary at times, we will still forgive it and give it a good score for a few reasons. The main reason being – it’s just so damn good.
We have reviewed a film by Jarno Lee Vinsencius before (check out the review of Darkness Falls here) so we knew to expect a tight production with beautiful visuals and The Madame in Black delivered in abundance. Vinsencius once again directed the film as well as writing the screenplay and taking up the duties of the cinematographer. As well as knowing how to block a movie, the Swedish auteur is also fantastic at lensing. Nearly every single shot is gorgeous to look at and he uses smoke well to add atmosphere to each scene. From bird’s eye drone shots of a forest full of trees, to low-light wides, the work is simply breathtaking for the most part.
The performances of all the actors are great, especially those of Ida Gyllenstan and Demis Tzivis who played the adult Emma and Alex respectively. It was also good to see the special make-up artist Ellinor Rosander portray the titular Madame in Black herself.
Overall, The Madame in Black is nothing new in terms of a story, but it is such a well-made and creepy short, you can do nothing but watch in awe behind the safety of a cushion. A great horror short created by a director with a bright future.