AKA: Dream Monster
Mr. Jabbar has been having strange recurring dreams lately, ones where he’s being stalked by a mysterious dark shadow. Jabbar is convinced there’s something out to get him. The dreams have gotten so bad that it’s gotten to the point where he’s scared to even go to sleep. He goes to a psychiatrist for help and Dr. Khan suggests that the quickest way to get to the root of his problem is to figure out what’s stalking him in his dreams and confront whatever it is head on. But as soon as Jabbar follows his advice, Khan realizes he’s made a very big mistake.
Shopno Danob, or Dream Monster, is a 4-minute long Bengali language psychological horror short from India. With part of that run-time taken up by end credits, the film itself is so brief that it’s almost over before it begins, but it still manages to get the point it was trying to make across, even in that short amount of time. That said, the film is still decidedly low-budget, so it does suffer from a couple of noticeable quirks that keep it from being as good as it could.
The first is that the film is shot using some very noticeable filters, a soft one for daylight scenes that slightly blurs the edges, and a darker, slightly blue-tinted one for daylight scenes where they’re trying to trick us into thinking it’s night. The filters work fine and their use is understandable given the film’s clear limitations, and they give the movie a very appropriately distinct and dreamlike feel. But at the same time, they also don’t do much to help hide the film’s meager budget.
But the bigger issue that holds the film back is the it’s pacing. I get that the movie is an experiment on the filmmakers’ parts, and that they weren’t planning on it being very long, but even so, most of it seems unnecessarily rushed. The first dream is paced alright, still a bit fast, but spaced out well enough to add some tension. But for the rest of the film it almost feels like someone was leaning on the fast-forward button. The editing is much quicker, and the dialogue goes by so swiftly that it almost feels like all of the actors are hopped up on speed. Now I’m not saying that the filmmakers needed to have the characters say more, or that anything needed to be added in any way, as the plot is fairly successfully succinct and complete in and of itself. But if they’d spaced the dialogue out, or hell, even pretended to allow the actors to take a breath between lines, it would have felt a bit more natural. I realize that maybe the rapid pace was intentional, and they were trying to make everything mesh with the dream-like vibe they were going for, but I feel like something as simple as merely adding a couple of extra seconds of breathing room in between lines could have helped them immensely and still managed to get the same feel across.
As a result of the rapid-fire pacing, it’s actually a bit difficult to figure out what’s happening at times. The version of the movie I watched has hard-coded English subtitles, meaning they’re part of the film and you can’t turn them on or off. On one hand, that’s great, because that implies that the dialogue I’m reading is exactly what the filmmakers intended. But on the other hand, the film moves so quickly that I guarantee that most viewers are going to miss bits of dialogue, regardless of how well accustomed they are to reading subtitles. I had to go back and rewatch sections a couple of times myself because I either missed the end of a line, or to just double check that I read it correctly. That’s a really bothersome thing to be forced to do in any film setting, but it’s specifically irksome here, especially considering that the film is so short.
Despite its flaws, I did like Shopno Danob. It’s short, it’s sweet, and I think it succeeds in getting the point across that it was trying to make. The movie’s biggest flaw is that it just seems needlessly fast-paced, almost like they were trying to match the film’s unnecessary speed with that of their hectic production schedule. If there had just been a couple of seconds added here and there it would have flowed a bit better. But that doesn’t mean that what is there is bad. It’s a nice, quick horror romp and is perfect if you’re looking for a little diversion.
Shopno Danob is available via Amazon Video.
There doesn’t seem to be any type of physical release.