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watch The Box- Horror / Thriller Short Film

Hey everyone! I finally finished my 8 minute Horror / Thriller short film THE BOX. It really means a lot to me. This forum's advice really helped a lot on making this happen, so I just wanted to thank everyone for that. So please take some time to watch it and let me know your honest opinion. Every review means the world to us.
Thanks again FOR EVERYTHING! :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzt8CSWSnNw&list=UUI-YiCkhAQwuv2X53tnlMYQ
Great concept. Very smart. I'm kinda jealous I didn't think about it myself!
 
Thank you very much, I really appreciate it bro! I was really trying to make it relevant, more that i was trying to make it scary. :)
 
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harmonica44

Basic Member
Really good job, I liked it! Perhaps some of it was shot too dark, but perhaps not. I felt the slow shutter speed effect though, was used too much and became distracting after a while, especially during the action shots.

However, those are minor things, and overall I found it to be atmospheric, overall well edited, and the music really added to it.

What did you use to get your sets all a metallic steel color for the look of the movie? Were the locations like that originally or did you have to build or repaint them?
 
Thanks a lot man! I truly appreciate it, I usually use the low shutter effect a lot, I like the effect it gives, perhaps I over did it a bit this time. About the sets, I just shoot the whole thing on my house and made a few a few adjustments in post, but it was mostly like that before, thanks for sharing your thoughts!
 
Hey, that was really cool! It's got the polished look and feel of a seasoned veteran. I'm impressed! The sound design and editing, in particular, are really nice.

I think it could've benefited from one or two jump-scares, and that's one way that I think the sound design could've been improved. I realize that the jump-scare is a cheap trick, but hey, it works.

Also, I think it would've been cool if the big reveal had been foreshadowed a little more at the beginning.

Either way, this is a solid piece of work, you should be proud! My two cents -- you should make a feature film! :yes:
 
Hey, that was really cool! It's got the polished look and feel of a seasoned veteran. I'm impressed! The sound design and editing, in particular, are really nice.

I think it could've benefited from one or two jump-scares, and that's one way that I think the sound design could've been improved. I realize that the jump-scare is a cheap trick, but hey, it works.

Also, I think it would've been cool if the big reveal had been foreshadowed a little more at the beginning.

Either way, this is a solid piece of work, you should be proud! My two cents -- you should make a feature film! :yes:
Thank you very much! you have no idea how much we appreciate it, I was intentionally trying not to add many jump scares, i was going for a more disturbing feel in the atmosphere, it made the whole thing way more challenging for me. I agree with you in the foreshadowing, i would've like to add more at the beginning, but i was too afraid it would reveal the big twist early on. Again thank you very much for taking the time to watch it, I hope to make a feature one day and it's great to be having feedback early on. I'll let you know when my next short is up. Cheers! ;)
 
Nice work. I really liked it overall, so these are just suggestions I think you could do to really tighten it up:

- The last minute or so feels unnecessary to me. Once we've seen the flashback sequence it feels like a natural ending to just finish with the shot of him in the dark holding the box. There's nothing after that that we haven't already seen, and it doesn't contribute further to the story.

- The dark scenes feel too dark. Mostly I think it's the way you're clamping the highlights so that they're a little grey in a lot of shots - I think if you utilized the full range you could keep the overall look very dark but lose some of the flatness.

- Some of the sounds (outside crickets, coyote, etc) sound artificial and feel like they're just overlaid into the scene without being part of it.

- The music works and feels appropriate in tone, but the actual production isn't great; a lot of the tones used sound like cheap synthesizers rather than real instruments. I think higher quality music would elevate the whole piece overall.
 
Nice work. I really liked it overall, so these are just suggestions I think you could do to really tighten it up:

- The last minute or so feels unnecessary to me. Once we've seen the flashback sequence it feels like a natural ending to just finish with the shot of him in the dark holding the box. There's nothing after that that we haven't already seen, and it doesn't contribute further to the story.

- The dark scenes feel too dark. Mostly I think it's the way you're clamping the highlights so that they're a little grey in a lot of shots - I think if you utilized the full range you could keep the overall look very dark but lose some of the flatness.

- Some of the sounds (outside crickets, coyote, etc) sound artificial and feel like they're just overlaid into the scene without being part of it.

- The music works and feels appropriate in tone, but the actual production isn't great; a lot of the tones used sound like cheap synthesizers rather than real instruments. I think higher quality music would elevate the whole piece overall.
Thanks for the critique, feedback is really important to me in order to grow as a filmmaker. I left the last minute because i felt the audience needed a moment to process what just happened, besides that gave me the chance to add the shot of the syringe and the pills, which was really meaningful for the story.

About the sounds on the outside, nothing to argue, I'll try blend it better next time.

And about the music, I have nothing to say except we did the best we could, that's one of the many issues with having no budget at all. I really felt that the sequence needed an original score, and I couldn't afford an industry professional, a couple of friends helped me out with the score and the production, they're both amateurs, so I think they did a pretty decent job. I'll see what i can do to improve the production of the score for my next film.

Again, thank you very much for taking the time to write this review, as I said before, It really helps me grow up as a filmmaker, Cheers! :)
 
That's what I assumed on the music - completely understandable, and what you've got certainly works with the rest of it.

I left the last minute because i felt the audience needed a moment to process what just happened, besides that gave me the chance to add the shot of the syringe and the pills, which was really meaningful for the story.
The thing is the audience has all the time in the world to process what just happened after the film ends - during the credits, after they leave the theater, days later as they are haunted by visions of your film, etc. I don't think you need to create space for that within a film unless you are moving on to another scene or forward with the story - but since your film is basically over at that point it should just be over, so that the audience can move on from the watching part to the 'reflecting back on what they just saw' phase.

I'm also not really clear on what the syringe and pills add to the story either - it feels like you're kind of saying "did you see? do you get it? it was drugs! drugs messed up his life/relationship! get it? get it?". But the audience gets it from the montage - you should trust in their ability to understand what they just saw.
 

richy

Member
I like what the IDOM and others had to say, though I think I liked the music more than he did.

I was thinking that the jump scare at c.2:24 was really well executed and I wanted to compliment you on that one.

The scene in which the ghost or zombie of the girlfriend is standing there in the car park and then especially the close-up of her face at c.3:33 is a little wanting. It's tough when you don't have a budget for wardrobe and some serious makeup. But if I had that to shoot to over, I think I would have try to do something a little more with, perhaps, her outfit when she's standing there back-lit. And I would definitely want a more sinister, spooky, and/or, more to the point...a more convincing makeup job for the closeup of her face. If that wasn't possible, I think I just wouldn't show her face so closely. If you can't afford an excellent effect, or if it just doesn't work well, it's best to not show it directly, explicitly, I'm thinking. Perhaps a cheap alternative to showing the closeup of the inadequate makeup would have been a medium or medium close up shot from behind her semi-silhouetted back and head.

Or, maybe put more into the makeup.

Looking at it even more closely in pause, I think the acting might also be at issue. What if, somewhat in foreshadow of what is to come, the actor had had the same expression as her "corpse" did when lying on the bed just after the overdose? Now that dead look might have been chilling and made the makeup less important to me.

The series of shots revealing the twist: the relationship with the girlfriend, the drug use, and related death is done so well. The build up to that is also done well. But I'm left feeling that maybe the build up might benefit from being shortened and tightened a little bit.

I also think I agree with IDOM about that ending bit. While I do like that closeup shot of the drug paraphernalia aesthetically (It is nice to look at, well done.), story first, so I think IDOM is right about it being overwrought --storywise.

Of course you know we're not nitpicking your film. We're just trying to offer constructive critiques, as you requested.

Very nice work. Looking forward to your nest film.

:)
 
Firstly, the short as a whole was excellent. It's one of the best short films I've seen this year. Now, for the details:

One of the most difficult things in a short film is creating an atmosphere and maintaining it without any loss in effectiveness, and without any issues with pacing - this short succeeds at this brilliantly, and it feels consistent in quality, tone and atmosphere throughout. I respond well to short films that are within the horror genre (and it's my favourite genre of film), but more specifically I am attracted to psychological horror films. This is a great example of a short, psychological horror film.

Now, in a lot of short films like this one, there's a tendency to have the character speak aloud to themselves, which may seem like a realistic approach due to the fact that some people do speak aloud to themselves, however it's not always effective, and wisely there's no superfluous dialogue in this, in fact, there's no dialogue whatsoever, and this is a major strength. The sound design was excellent all across the board. There weren't any issues that took me out of the film at any time, I was really engaged, and part of this, especially in a short like this, is due to the sound effects creating an ambience, contributing to the tone and atmosphere, complimenting the visuals.

There's a tendency too in these types of shorts to add in a lot of jump scare moments. But most of the time these are really only loud noises on the soundtrack to make the audience jump, not from fear, but just from surprise, and to me a scary film isn't about being made to jump, it's about how it affects the viewer long after the film has finished. In this short there was only one jump scare but it was done in such a way that, while there is a cue in the score to signify this, the fact that what's appeared from out of nowhere for the character, isn't someone making a cliche gesture, like reaching out for the main character, jumping towards them, or anything of the like - they simply just appear and stand still, and this is why this one jump scare works well and isn't like most jump scares.

To be honest I cannot think of anything that made me disconnect from the short on any level. Well done with The Box, it is a very effective short film, of very professional looking, and sounding, quality, and I look forward to more short films from The Skylight Studios.
 
That's what I assumed on the music - completely understandable, and what you've got certainly works with the rest of it.



The thing is the audience has all the time in the world to process what just happened after the film ends - during the credits, after they leave the theater, days later as they are haunted by visions of your film, etc. I don't think you need to create space for that within a film unless you are moving on to another scene or forward with the story - but since your film is basically over at that point it should just be over, so that the audience can move on from the watching part to the 'reflecting back on what they just saw' phase.

I'm also not really clear on what the syringe and pills add to the story either - it feels like you're kind of saying "did you see? do you get it? it was drugs! drugs messed up his life/relationship! get it? get it?". But the audience gets it from the montage - you should trust in their ability to understand what they just saw.
You are right about that, I didn’t explained myself well in my last comment.

The main reason I did the ending that way, was because I wanted the film to feel like a full circle, yeah storywise but also visually (as I used the same shots from the first scene). We’re back to the beginning, the sequence is almost the same, but something changed, we are seeing the almost the same scene with new eyes, we also see something new, the syringe, which was always there. Also, the phone ringing at the end was important as it represented the whole experience was about to begin again.

Overall the last minute of the film helped me to give the ending the tone I was looking, a melancholic feeling. I felt I couldn’t have done that with a more abrupt, on the high note ending (that’s what i was referring to with giving the audience time). Perhaps you are right and the scene lasted for a bit too long, I’m afraid.

Anyway the I really appreciate you taking the time to write constructive critiques, it seriously means a lot to me :)
 
I like what the IDOM and others had to say, though I think I liked the music more than he did.

I was thinking that the jump scare at c.2:24 was really well executed and I wanted to compliment you on that one.

The scene in which the ghost or zombie of the girlfriend is standing there in the car park and then especially the close-up of her face at c.3:33 is a little wanting. It's tough when you don't have a budget for wardrobe and some serious makeup. But if I had that to shoot to over, I think I would have try to do something a little more with, perhaps, her outfit when she's standing there back-lit. And I would definitely want a more sinister, spooky, and/or, more to the point...a more convincing makeup job for the closeup of her face. If that wasn't possible, I think I just wouldn't show her face so closely. If you can't afford an excellent effect, or if it just doesn't work well, it's best to not show it directly, explicitly, I'm thinking. Perhaps a cheap alternative to showing the closeup of the inadequate makeup would have been a medium or medium close up shot from behind her semi-silhouetted back and head.

Or, maybe put more into the makeup.

Looking at it even more closely in pause, I think the acting might also be at issue. What if, somewhat in foreshadow of what is to come, the actor had had the same expression as her "corpse" did when lying on the bed just after the overdose? Now that dead look might have been chilling and made the makeup less important to me.

The series of shots revealing the twist: the relationship with the girlfriend, the drug use, and related death is done so well. The build up to that is also done well. But I'm left feeling that maybe the build up might benefit from being shortened and tightened a little bit.

I also think I agree with IDOM about that ending bit. While I do like that closeup shot of the drug paraphernalia aesthetically (It is nice to look at, well done.), story first, so I think IDOM is right about it being overwrought --storywise.



Very nice work. Looking forward to your nest film.

:)
Of course you know we're not nitpicking your film. We're just trying to offer constructive critiques, as you requested.
Of course I know you are not nitpicking, I was the one who requested constructive critiques, and I’m honestly very glad I’m getting them! :)

The scene in which the ghost or zombie of the girlfriend is standing there in the car park and then especially the close-up of her face at c.3:33 is a little wanting. It's tough when you don't have a budget for wardrobe and some serious makeup. But if I had that to shoot to over, I think I would have try to do something a little more with, perhaps, her outfit when she's standing there back-lit. And I would definitely want a more sinister, spooky, and/or, more to the point...a more convincing makeup job for the closeup of her face. If that wasn't possible, I think I just wouldn't show her face so closely. If you can't afford an excellent effect, or if it just doesn't work well, it's best to not show it directly, explicitly, I'm thinking. Perhaps a cheap alternative to showing the closeup of the inadequate makeup would have been a medium or medium close up shot from behind her semi-silhouetted back and head.

Or, maybe put more into the makeup.

About the make up, you are absolutely right, it just wasn’t good enough, I’ll improve that on my next film for sure, the casual wardrobe was intentional tho, I was using it as a way of foreshadowing.

Looking at it even more closely in pause, I think the acting might also be at issue. What if, somewhat in foreshadow of what is to come, the actor had had the same expression as her "corpse" did when lying on the bed just after the overdose? Now that dead look might have been chilling and made the makeup less important to me.
I never thought of this, what a great idea! I’m probably going to use in a future project.

Overall thank you very much for the review, It really helps me to grow as a filmmaker, and to make my films better every time, I’ll let you know when the next one is ready! :)
 
Firstly, the short as a whole was excellent. It's one of the best short films I've seen this year. Now, for the details:

One of the most difficult things in a short film is creating an atmosphere and maintaining it without any loss in effectiveness, and without any issues with pacing - this short succeeds at this brilliantly, and it feels consistent in quality, tone and atmosphere throughout. I respond well to short films that are within the horror genre (and it's my favourite genre of film), but more specifically I am attracted to psychological horror films. This is a great example of a short, psychological horror film.

Now, in a lot of short films like this one, there's a tendency to have the character speak aloud to themselves, which may seem like a realistic approach due to the fact that some people do speak aloud to themselves, however it's not always effective, and wisely there's no superfluous dialogue in this, in fact, there's no dialogue whatsoever, and this is a major strength. The sound design was excellent all across the board. There weren't any issues that took me out of the film at any time, I was really engaged, and part of this, especially in a short like this, is due to the sound effects creating an ambience, contributing to the tone and atmosphere, complimenting the visuals.
Thank you for the kind words man, I really appreciate them, this is one of the most flattering reviews I’ve ever received. You mentioned a lot of things that I thought nobody was going to notice, like the focusing on the atmosphere rather than in the scares, the visual storytelling, the only jumpscare and it’s purpose, the sound design. You really mentioned most of the things I put special effort on.

to me a scary film isn't about being made to jump, it's about how it affects the viewer long after the film has finished.
I couldn’t have said this better, this is exactly my philosophy when it comes to horror filmmaking. I’m so glad you share this idea with me.

Overall, thank you for watching the film, and taking the time to write this amazing review, it means a lot to me man, I’ll let you know when my next film is done. Best wishes bro! :)
 
You're welcome, and thank you!

My first major experience with a horror film was 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street, when I was almost twelve years old, and it is a slasher but also a great psychological horror as well. But what really scared me, aside from the events in the film, is the long lasting thoughts I had after viewing the movie, even months later, and that, to me, is what a true horror film does.
 

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