Saturday, August 06, 2016

MIFF ’16: Creswick (short)

This is not the New Yankee Workshop. For one thing, it happens to be in Australia. It also seems to be the scene of some uncanny goings-on in Natalie Erika James’ short film Creswick (trailer here), which screens during the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Sam never felt comfortable in her father Colin’s cabin-workshop-home, but she never really understood why. Nevertheless, she is somewhat sad to return as a grown adult to help him close-up and move out of the property. However, he finally realizes what unsettled her as a child. Rugged old Colin is convinced there is another entity haunting the space.

Although only ten minutes long, Creswick is a terrific example of economical and evocative story telling. Thanks to the smart disciplined performances of Dana Miltins and Chris Orchard, the audience quickly picks up on the loving but somewhat strained nature of their relationship. They are perfectly in-synch and they bring us up to speed quickly. (Frankly, it is just refreshing to see a supernatural film that does not eventually expose the father as a pedophile for a change.)

It is also cool whenever a horror film credits a furniture designer—in this case Isabel Avendano. Her chairs really help make the film (you’ll understand when you see them). Japanese-Australian filmmaker James (who also produced Qiu Yang’s Slamdance-selected short Under the Sun) masterful controls the mood of foreboding and steadily dials up the tension. For most of the film, she relies on suggestion, but there is a nice bit of practical effects down the stretch.

Quite impressive, the world of Creswick could easily be expanded for feature treatment. Highly recommended for fans of The Conjuring, Creswick screens today, or is it already yesterday (8/6) and this Monday (8/8), as part of the Accelerator 1 short film block at this year’s MIFF.