Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

The House on Oak Street (Short)

Grade : A Year : 2017 Director : Kyle Misak Running Time : 18min Genre : , ,
Movie review score

“The House on Oak Street” was sent to me by a friend who is big on horror films. It was filmed in the town next to where he grew up, and he hoped to do a conversation between us about the film and the town’s history, which we will be doing for a podcast in the near future. For now, though, some written thoughts on this short film, which is set on Halloween. We begin with the image of a someone carving pumpkins, alone, in an old house that is reminiscent of the Bates home in “Psycho.” We then see Derek (Jesse Charles) drive up to pick his brother Brand (Bradlee Curtis-Chase) from a store, but Brand decides to bike home, and rides past the house at the beginning. We then see Brand and his friends get ready for trick-or-treating, while Derek and his girlfriend are getting ready for their last high school Halloween party together. When Brand and his friends go back to the house, there are pumpkins all around the front, inviting entry. Have these kids not heard the phrase, “curiosity kills the cat?” Kyle Misak’s film is short on narrative depth, but is long on atmosphere and style, starting with the score, utilizing organ at the outset, by Gregory De Iulio. There’s some truly haunting imagery in this film by Misak and his cinematographer, Erin Hughes, and it adds so much to what is basically a simple film of discovering a terrifying truth, and sets up the potential for more. It’s not so much about the end payoff, which feels muted, but the unease with what is come upon. The film is more interested in mood-based terror than action-based terror- case in point, an attack that would normally be shown is off-camera here. That is not a bad thing, and I’m definitely more of a haunted house type horror fan at this point than blood and guts. With that being said, however, it does feel like the film fails to satisfy in its resolution, which doesn’t feel resolved. That makes its overall impact feel incomplete, but Misak delivers such a strong vision and sense of dread prior to that it makes any issues feel minor, when all is said and done.

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