‘Occurrence At Mills Creek’ Short Film Review: More suspense than horror

Screen Shot 2019-07-28 at 4.54.25 PM
Source: SpruceFilms | Youtube

The enigma surrounding the death tries to keep the film afloat but amateurish execution in places, lack of horrifying instances and bad acting work against its favour.

Clara (Ava Psoras) and Cassandra (Alexa Mechling), wearing a black outfit, are slowly walking together in a cemetery after burying their mother, Emily (Betsy Lynn George). The background music here – the film has the original score from Mark D’Errico and additional music from Mia Zanotti, Jay Zanotti and Lorey Zanotti – beautifully captures the essence of the first couple of minutes from Iron Maiden’s song called Dance Of Death. One can also feel a bit of Ennio Morricone-style whistle in there. So the music does its part well to set the right mood for a horror film.

Director Don Swanson’s Occurrence At Mills Creek tells the story of a deceased girl (and that is Cassandra). The narrative attempts to find the cause of her death and the person who killed her. The suspense created by Swanson is exemplary as it gives rise to doubts inside you as to the exact reason of her death who is said to have died at the creek. On the one hand, Clara can be seen feeling the loss of her sister as several people make an appearance at the funeral to mourn the death of Cassandra. On the other hand, she is also shown to be envying the beauty of Cassandra. So, you are not quite sure about Clara’s intentions. Victor (Joe Fishel), their father, can be seen with a blank countenance at Cassandra’s funeral and is also involved in a quarrel with a woman (This quarrel scene, like few other scenes, seemed too amateurishly shot and the woman who is having an argument with Victor lends a bad performance. As a matter of fact, even the performance of lead characters was all over the place). So, this makes you think if Victor has anything to do with Cassandra’s death. But when the knot of mystery surrounding the death is finally untangled, it doesn’t leave you greatly astonished.

Even though the suspense works out well, the movie does not have enough to horrify you as much as it intends to. The glimpses of Emily’s ghost shown in the film aren’t really terrifying. But there’s a scene that takes place at the church and is worth mentioning (People, sitting all around Clara, start looking at her with a blank expression. At this instant, the camera puts a particular focus on an old woman. This doesn’t send a shiver down your spine but you do feel a strangeness during the scene).

This short film is only the first act of a full-length feature film that will be released in 2020. Not surprisingly, the film leaves you with plenty of unanswered questions. The enigma surrounding the death tries to keep the film afloat but amateurish execution in places, lack of horrifying instances and bad acting work against its favour.

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