Whoo-ee. Keeping up with writing these days is the hardest thing. My brain has zero power left after work. Watching films for fun? Doesn’t really happen. Unless I’m getting my ass into a seat at the cinema, I’m too zonked to stay attentive.
However, short films have saved me.
I’ve really grown fond of finding indie horror filmmakers like Kane Parsons on YouTube. Just kids making magic with the little resources they have. It’s a right of passage to make movies with your pals, but these are miles better than the Jackass Juniors skits me and my pre-teen pals made. These movies are truly why the Internet is a Good Thing.
While browsing Letterboxd one night, I saw a poster for a short film that I knew I had to track down.
“What Did You Do?” (2022)
One evening, a young man, Jack, is watching TV when it’s interrupted by a strange series of strange images. Amongst them is a pair of people telling the viewers to praise Bob. Who’s Bob? Presumably the grinning bald man that flashes the peace sign.
After seeing the images, Jack goes online and sees that other people have also seen Bob’s message. Though it isn’t just a strange film or a momentary hijacking of the TV’s satellite. Soon after, a second set of images appear on the TV. This causes Jack to get up and fish out a knife.
When Jack’s pizza arrives, the poor essential worker gets the knife to the neck. But Jack is only carrying out what Bob said to do. When a friend arrives at his house, he learns that Bob has a lot more followers than just him.
The budget here is obviously minuscule, but the work done to create the unsettling series of images is really great. This very much reminded me of the Max Headroom incident, which equally makes me feel uncomfortable every time I watch it. At least in this short film, we get to know the true meaning of the messages.
We’re all glued to our screens all the time, but what messages are we really consuming?
Scaring yourself can be fun. It’s also a double-edged sword once you realise the movie has got you so scared that you can’t even get up to turn on the light.
While sitting alone one night, Nick gets a call from his friend. There’s someone standing outside his friend’s window. In and of itself, probably not the worst thing to happen on a Friday night. Though it soon becomes clear that it’s making Nick’s friend really paranoid. Nick realises that there’s someone outside his house, too. His friend initially claims that the figure looks like Nick, but then it looks like the friend’s father.
When he hears his friend scream on the other end of the line, Nick begins to panic. He quickly closes everything up in his home.
Nick heads upstairs to where it should be safe, only to see a horrific figure waiting for him, calling his name. This part made my toes curl. It might just be a blanket and a phone, but ho-boy, it got straight under my skin.
“DON’T” parallels the story structure to “What Did You Do” in many ways, and they both end in a similar fashion: a news report of how the world has suddenly gone to hell.
I really enjoyed Ross’s short films. I 100% wouldn’t be surprised if he’s Midwestern. He’s just got that weirdo vibe about him that we all have. (And I mean this in the most affectionate way possible.) A side-effect of small towns and nothing to do. And if not? If not, he can be an honorary member of the club.
There’s something so magical about watching someone put something together with nothing more than a camera and good pals. Keep doing it, man. Thanks for giving my night great entertainment.