Quiet Room Bears
Simon is going to be alone for a couple of days so he can finish up some light home renovations before his wife and daughter arrive. Before he even walks through the door, he notices an innocuous looking teddy bear sitting on the front porch. He initially thinks it belongs to one of the kids in the neighborhood, but it doesn’t take him long to figure out that the bear’s origins are much more sinister. Soon he’s suffering from headaches, nosebleeds and time loss. He thinks he’s just tired and will feel better with some rest, but by the time the hallucinations set in it’s already too late for Simon to do anything to help himself.
Quiet Room Bears is a seventeen-minute, 2018 short film about a creature who forces it’s victims to create grotesque teddy bears using other creepy toys and body parts. The film comes to us from writer and director Lee Howard, who since 2001 has been making a series of uniquely designed creepy teddy bears, either out of household implements, or pop culture elements (think the Scream mask bloodily stitched together with half the head of a teddy bear.) So basically what it boils down to, is the film is a very long, self-made ad for one guy’s very creepy art project. To me that seems a little excessive, but hey, kudos to him for being successful enough for some extravagant art promotion. All artists should be so lucky.
Perhaps lucky is the wrong word….
It also really helps that Howard did a pretty stellar job in his breakout role as director. The film is well paced, with careful attention to detail given to things like lighting and camera angles. There’s also a nice sense of subtle nuance to the way the film handles time and space, that you don’t see too much in modern horror films. It helps make the whole production seem rather surreal and dreamlike.
Where the movie faltered a bit was in the story department. While the plot itself was perfectly serviceable, not to mention highly creepy and excellently paced for such a short affair, I actually think it would have benefitted from an extra minute or two of additional background information. We learn precious little about Simon other than he’s the father to a newborn and he has five days to himself to do a little painting and light housework before his family arrives. Considering his ultimate bloody fate, it would have been nice to have had just a little more to connect with. I mean, sure, what happened to him was shocking and highly disturbing, but having just a little bit more knowledge to empathize with would have helped in giving the audience more of an emotional investment. Instead, all we’re given is a rather nosey and flirtatious neighbor for him to interact with, but while he may ignore her advances, that really doesn’t help give the audience anything to sympathize with.
Other than maybe the solace of knowing he got some yummy dinner to eat before his demise.
But where the film really shines is in the imagery. Based on an art project or not, those teddy bears are super creepy little buggers that make for some very unsettling visuals. Think a more cuddly, unsettling version of Chucky from the Child’s Play films, still covered in blood, but pieces of him have been replaced by knives, fingers and he has a doll’s head sewn into his stomach. And there are several different versions of these things seen throughout the film, which really helps to drive the creepy-factor home. Then, if that wasn’t enough, the movie also throws in what I suspect to be a supernatural being, one that forces their unsuspecting victims to make these bloody teddy bears against their will. He’s basically a bear-mask wearing Slender Man in ratty clothing that chases Simon around the asylum he finds himself in. Sure, you know he’s just a guy in a costume awkwardly crouch-walking on a pair of stilts, but for such a low-budget effect it still comes off as rather chilling. So bravo to the filmmakers for maximizing their dollar for dollar impact. It may not be perfect, but they did good with what they had to work with.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the Quiet Room Bears. It’s not perfect, with some of the writing and acting feeling a little bit forced in a couple of places. But the rest of the film is pretty fun. It looks good, it sounds good, the visuals and story are unsettling, and it’s paced perfectly to get the story across without overstaying it’s welcome. If you’re a fan of horror movies, then this should prove to be a nice, quick diversion. Unless you’re the type of person who doesn’t want your love of teddy bears ruined.
Quiet Room Bears is available to stream via Amazon.
You might also be able to find it if you do a little digging on Youtube.