Return of the Beast from Outer Space
Tom and Claire head out to the woods one weekend to do a little peaceful camping, but their quiet getaway turns into a weekend of horrors when they’re suddenly attacked by a mysterious monster. But things are apparently not what they seem. As they frantically search their campsite for their bike keys, Tom notices two cameras hidden in the brush around their tent. Is the creature…. filming them? Something is clearly amiss, but neither Tom nor Claire may have time to figure out what it is before the creature catches up to them.
I do love a good horror movie that likes to subvert your expectations, and even at less than 15-minutes long, the Return of the Beast from Outer Space is no exception. The film marks the seventh movie written and directed by Max Ward, who seems to have a penchant for making short films in a variety of genres, though this one falls into the horror/thriller category. Thankfully, he seems to be good at making them by this point, as the film won the “Best Short Film Based in Wales” award at the Wales International Film Festival. Personally I think that particular category seems suspiciously specific, but unlike some other award winning films, I feel this one was probably warranted.
As far as the story goes, it’s clear Mr. Ward knows what he’s doing. The viewer is given just enough information in the first few seconds to know where they are, before they, and the characters, are swiftly thrown into the thick of things. Information is then trickled out to both the viewer and the characters at a steady pace, slowly revealing what’s happening and the truth behind the monster. You learn what’s going on just as the characters learn it, until the truth becomes clear at the end.
The film is beautifully shot, utilizing a variety of techniques and angles. Focus shots are used to heighten the fear and tension, close-ups bring out the claustrophobia, and vast barren landscapes highlight the scale of the isolation the characters find themselves in. Everything is used expertly and to great effect, so on a technical level the film has few faults.
One particular aspect I enjoyed was regarding how the visuals related to the monster were utilized. When the monster first shows up, you don’t actually see him. Your first indication of the creature’s existence is actually a series of menacing growls (naturally followed by the character’s panicked screaming), which is slowly followed by swift appendages and a blurry visage. But as the story progresses, and the viewers and characters gain more information, the monster slowly comes into clearer and clearer focus, until you see the creature for what it really is. It’s a subtle visual metaphor, but it works really well and it adds a nice element to the film.
I was very impressed by Return of the Beast from Outer Space. It sounds good, it looks great, it’s well paced and it’s perfectly acted. It’s the kind of short that you wish was a full-length feature film, because it was so well put together that you want it to last longer. I really enjoyed it. If you like horror or thriller films, then you should definitely give it a watch.
Return of the Beast from Outer Space is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.