A young man discovers an alternate reality through the other side of a drainpipe. Through this, he must confront himself before it’s too late. This is Mark Grabianowski’s short horror, Pipe Dream.
A rainy street makes way for a shell-shocked Ian (nervously played by actor Reid Schmidt) as he lies on his couch speaking on the phone to his sister. As they chat it becomes clear that Ian is feeling guilty about discovering something horrible; an event that has affected him both emotionally and mentally. As he tries to come to terms with his experience, he discovers something sinister under the sink. Or does he?
Pipe Dream is only 5 minutes long but manages to cram a lot into its run time. While it does have elements of horror, they are mainly psychological, although, with a clever use of visual effects, a squirt of blood, and an understanding of a particular incident that has happened to us all, there is one moment that really does make the viewer wince. What we can say for sure is that Ian is experiencing some sort of PTSD, and because of it, he thinks something is lurking in his house, however, we are never sure how real any of it actually is.
The cinematography in Pipe Dream is by Elijah Dettlaff, and it is used to great effect, even with the short being set in one location and using just one actor, the Dettlaff and Grabianowski partnership manages to create a sense of unease and disorientation. Using jarring camera angles and quick cuts to create a sense of claustrophobia and anxiety in the film, the scenes mirror the protagonist’s own mental state. There are frequent changes in perspective which make it difficult for viewers to get their own bearings, as they watch Ian struggling to make sense of his own, and what he begins to discover. The harsh lighting and dark shadows add to the sense of unease, creating an eerie atmosphere, and while the special effects are fine, they are used sparingly and are good enough to make an impact on the story.
It is Justin Van Hout’s sound design in Pipe Dream that is the key element in creating the film’s creepy atmosphere; the noises are often discordant and dissonant, with harsh sounds like the running of a tap, the opening of a cupboard, or a gurgle from the plug hole grating on the nerves. These sounds perfectly complement the film’s visuals, which are often dark and claustrophobic. Together, the sound and visuals create an immersive experience that keeps viewers on edge for the full 5 minutes. With its unique blend of the psychological and the supernatural, Pipe Dream has a lot in common with such Hollywood films as The Sixth Sense, Jacobs Ladder, and Mulholland Drive.
An unsettling short film that takes viewers on a nervous journey into the mind of someone suffering from a form of shock and grief, Pipe Dream is a well-made short film with fine cinematography and excellent sound direction that perfectly captures the confused and disorienting world of its main character.