The Wrong One
Journalism students Lisa and Tim are paired up to work on an assignment, which involves researching a local crime where a mother killed her child, and then presenting their findings to the class. But as the two of them discover more and more about the brutal crime, Lisa starts seeing similarities to her own past, involving the tragic death of her twin sister when the two of them were still children.
I can’t find out much background information on The Wrong One, from 2018. The most I could dig up about this little horror short was two tidbits found on IMDB. The first is that it won an Award of Recognition from the Accolade Global Film Competition from May 2019. And the second, based on someone’s post, is that it may, or may not, have paid the film’s gaffer and key grip for their work. If true, then that’s super poor form, and shame on them. As for the film itself though, it’s… Alright. Decent enough, but I’m not sure I’d consider it award worthy.
The film has some nice visuals for a horror short, and even some really creepy ones. And there’s some good audio to accompany the especially tense moments. But it also has a couple of noticeable hiccups in both fields as well. There’s a couple instances of “shaky cam” during some early establishing shots, which suggests to me that the filmmakers maybe-sorta might not have had permission to film in certain locations. And there are a couple of moments where the otherwise decent sound gets garbled, either due to the echo in certain rooms, or because the microphones got muffled because the characters were hugging (I guess they didn’t have a boom mic). Nothing big, but just some noticeable tics in otherwise strong areas.
The movie also does a decent job of character development in the short amount of time it has. With less than 22 minutes to work with it manages to establish solid personalities for both of it’s main characters by making them relatable and not giving into cliches. It even manages to keep things relevant, and even a little humorous, with Tim pointing out how very unwise it is for a black man such as himself to be snooping around houses, even if it’s his own. My only complaint in this area is that Lisa starts to become really annoying with her insistence to keep going back to the “death house”, even to the detriment of herself (and others). Like, seriously lady, I know you want your phone back, but there’s no reason you couldn’t wait until morning to go back into the creepy haunted house that had already kicked your ass once that day. Girl seriously needed some common sense and some chill.
Bitch, are you serious? Put that damn thing down!
The movie’s biggest issue is that the film’s concept doesn’t feel like it’s quite as successful as it seems to think it is. The film is ultimately trying to connect the drowning crime perpetrated at the house to the guilt that Lisa feels about the drowning death of her sister. Because the mother who killed her child claimed after being arrested that “the wrong one” died and, years later, Lisa is still suffering from survivor’s guilt, because she’s the one who talked her sister into playing in the water with her in the first place. So the film is using a familiar story device where it’s trying to overlap these two incidents, so that the protagonist can feel like she can relate to the current events. Kinda like those cliches you see in action movies, where sometime in the past Character X didn’t act in time and accidentally let Character Y die, and by the end of the movie Character X is put in a similar situation so that they have a chance at redeeming themselves in some way.
Except in this film’s case, it doesn’t really work, because we’re not really given a chance to feel pity for anyone. We don’t even learn about Lisa’s tragic backstory until the movie is already halfway through. And even when it comes to the murder victim we don’t know enough about the crime that happened at the house to feel anything beyond a vague “well, bummer.” And I don’t think it’s an issue of there not being enough time. I mean, yeah, they could have added a couple of minutes and probably fleshed it out a bit more, and that would have been helpful. But it’s really more an issue of them not piecing the narrative together in a way that really makes the story they were trying for make sense. They get really close to getting it right, and the story is at least clear enough to figure out what they’re doing. But I don’t know that it actually works the way they wanted it to.
That’s not to say that The Wrong One is necessarily bad in some way. It’s really not. It’s just… Average for a short, I guess is the issue. It has some nice visuals and sounds, some good ideas, and some GREAT characters and atmosphere. But the plot feels a little too heavy-handed considering what we’re actually given to work with. Overall it’s fine, I just wish that the emotion they needed to have was there. Still, it’s a quick watch, so if you need more horror in your life and you have a half an hour to kill, feel free to give this a shot.
The Wrong One is available to watch on Amazon Prime.