A journalist’s search for a missing woman takes him to her last known whereabouts – a strange pub where a telephone constantly rings. We check out the psychological horror short The Telephone.
Directed by British film maker Stuart Wheeldon (In Limbo, DreamScape), The Telephone is a creepy short horror film much akin to something David Lynch would make if Lynch was from the North of England and had a small budget to create a short horror. In other words, it’s a little strange, unsettling and different.
Richard (Bernard Deegan) is a journalist who receives a letter and a glass ornament in the post. He senses a story and travels to a small English town where he hears about the mysterious disappearance of a woman. Her last known whereabouts is a public house who happen to have rooms to rent. One he is booked into the room, he is tormented by both a telephone constantly ringing from somewhere in the building and an encounter with the vision of a woman trying to strangle him.
While the majority of us would get straight out of Dodge, Richard stays at the pub and soon runs into the proprietor, Max (Nigel Barber) – a strange American who likes to paint abstract pictures. Max informs Richard that there has been no telephone ringing, but other tenants have said the same in the past.
As Richard hunts for that ever elusive breakthrough, things go from bad to worse, in this short and quite disturbing horror.
We’ve had our fair share of horror films to review at Screen Critix, with the majority being slasher type shorts or creature features. Psychological horror films have been, some what of a rare breed. So it is refreshing for one to land on our desk. That’s not to say The Telephone is perfect, it does have some production issues. I found the production design to be a mixed bag – the room where Max resides is beautifully crafted, whilst the rest of the hotel looked bland with its white walls and lack of practical lighting. Obviously, Wheeldon and co couldn’t go around painting walls, but the use of props and lighting could have given the place a bit more character.
The pace of the edit was a little off kilter too, as was some of the audio, with it noticeably cutting out in some instances, especially between cuts.
Still, the performances by the actors, including director Stuart Wheeldon who also plays Paul, are all strong and the story itself is great. It should find a good audience among the horror and thriller festivals that run across the world. If you do find it advertised to play in a city or town near you, I certainly recommend you purchasing a ticket.