After almost drowning in the bathtub a girl wakes up to find herself locked inside a dark and eerie bathroom. Things quickly go from bad to worse as she begins to realise there might be someone or something in the room with her in Usher Morgan’s short horror film Trapped Inside.
Trapped Inside is an inventive variation on the often-used haunted house mystery plot – a key part of the horror film genre. Due to us being bombarded with so many big-budget horror films over recent years, epitomised by The Conjuring series, we have been trained to expect a slow build-up that is quiet and brooding, only for all hell to break loose later on with flashy special effects, violent shocks, and blood-curdling apparitions. Brilliantly, despite using a fraction of the budget, Usher Morgan manages to give us all of that big, brash horror bluster without any of the waiting.
Morgan only has 10 minutes in which to tell his story and he wastes no time by throwing us straight in at the deep end, both metaphorically and literally. Macy Nash (played by actor Elyse Price) wakes up completely freaked out after almost drowning in her bathtub, and as she begins to drip dry in the mirror she suddenly gets the feeling that she might not be alone. The lighting of the bathroom is eerily blue and green which immediately makes the audience feel uneasy and gives the images a look that something otherworldly may just be about to happen. The film’s events are so integral to the plot that even a hint might give away the game, but I will do my best to avoid any spoilers.
One of the first things you notice about Trapped Inside is just how bleak it actually is, not only with the bluey-green hue that envelopes the bathroom and our main character but with the atmosphere of complete dread that totally engulfs the audience. The supporting cast is introduced in a mix of jump scares and short edits which not only helps to keep the story moving at what feels like 110 miles an hour but also manages to really unsettle the viewer.
The visuals Morgan has come up with are original yet very familiar, with nods to The Ring, Rec, The Grudge, The Others, and even Salem’s Lot. The special FX and makeup team deserve a lot of praise for what they have achieved here so I will give credit to the whole team, Catrina Grieco, Maria Alexandra, Shannon Rae Mulligan, and Alina Barretto. Their work, along with Morgan’s framing, lighting, and clever cinematography has created a number of memorable movie monsters that one would find hard to forget.
Elyse Price as the main character Macy gives a terrific performance in what can only be described as a thankless and emotionally challenging role. There are many stories of Shelley Duvall during and after the filming of The Shining suffering from PTSD and other traumas. Due to Kubrick’s constant takes and her character spending the entire shoot having to live in fear crying and screaming 12 hours a day, for weeks on end. I am sure Morgan was never as tyrannical as Kubrick and that Trapped Inside didn’t take 12 months to film, but Price, similar to Duvall, has to spend the entire film on edge, crying and screaming in constant terror at events unfolding before her and I hope she gets the plaudits she deserves.
Trapped Inside is very good at being scary and excels at being unsettling. What Morgan has been able to do is commit an act of emotional terrorism on his audience, and in doing so, has ended up making one of the best short horror films of the year.