Awful Dreams is a stylish nightmare in a short and sweet presentation.
Awful Dreams (2019) Review By Mark McPherson
Published on May 4, 2023
Rating 4 /5
The most entertaining horror films don’t always need the most thematically heavy scripts. Some movies of this genre can be compelling on the mere presentation. A well-staged fright or an unexpected dose of terror in the shadows can work wonders. Awful Dreams is a short film that is an exciting and quick dose of simplistic fear.
It’s nighttime, and a man is settling in for a quiet evening with his dog. They watch some TV, and he lets his furry best friend out to do his business in the backyard. But there’s something sinister up the street. A mysterious figure stands in the middle of the road. Nobody else is around. It’s hard to see this woman, but she has the posture and look of a horror movie figure, as though she could easily be palling around with the deadly ghost from The Ring. The man thinks nothing of it and returns inside, but the thoughts of the woman linger.
You can almost hear the countdown to death when the man finds the spirit outside his door. The lighting and sound make for the perfect setting for something horrifying about to go down. Without spoiling the ending, the final assault of the paranormal entity is sure to make one think twice about entering their bedroom. Familiar fears of the dark set in that might be relatable for those who find themselves alone in the house when their better half is out of town. It can seem terrifying to be sleeping alone when being so used to having somebody else present. So when the final shocking scene unfolds, it’s almost as if the filmmakers are giving a “good luck” to the audience as they try to sleep after watching this.
The technical aspects of this short are top-notch in their presentation. The lighting is perfectly set for a dark story, with great uses of the porch light and the glow of the fridge. The blocking is exceptional, especially in a shot where the spirit rises from the ground, and the man’s turning is perfectly aligned for the figure to vanish when his gaze draws towards her. The makeup effects are solid for how sparingly they are used on the undead killer lurking in the darkness. The dog is also ideally placed in this picture, doing a relatively good job with his scenes and presumably being a very good boy. There’s only one shot where there’s not continuity of where the dog is looking, but hey, he’s probably not a professional.
Awful Dreams is a stylish nightmare in a short and sweet presentation. Director Sean Cruser has done a remarkable job using his four minutes well. Astonishingly, this director has only specialized in short films for the longest time. Movies like this should be enough to ensure Cruser can handle a feature-length production, given how much quality was placed in this short film.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.