Short of the Week

No Way Out

Isolated in a place where twisted creatures torment him from the dark, a man desperately tries to find an escape.

Holidays are a tried and true way to launch a short film. If you tie your film into the festivities, you can potentially access the millions of sites, curators and fans desperate for something easy and topical to share. Of the all the holidays, Halloween always seems to be the maddest for shorts though, perhaps because Horror is such an insular genre—All Hollow’s Eve really one of the only opportunities for a horror short to break through.

So I do always look forward to the Halloween rush, and this year did not disappoint. Like previous years, where we’ve been treated to new short work from up-and-coming horror directors like Mike Dougherty and Drew Daywalt, today we are gifted a short from buzzed about feature director Kristoffer Aaron Morgan, who is currently in production on his big screen debut, The Home.

No Way Out is the short, and it is a deliberately stripped down exercise in horror, emphasizing tension and suspense. Stripped down doesn’t mean homogenous in approach though. There is a “gotcha” aspect to certain scenes, there is a monster, but most notably the film has a palpable feeling of psychological horror to it.

As an audience we are dropped into the action with no context. We don’t know who is our main character (AJ Bowen), or what he is running from. The immediacy of the action means that we’re engaged before we can even ask these questions however, which is great, because answers are not forthcoming. Instead, atmosphere, starting with the terrific camera work takes precedence, and we understand that we’re watching a exercise—a demonstration of craft less than a story.

Like a puzzle missing pieces, No Way Out is a beautiful picture that is incomplete narrative. But, in a short format, that withholding can be asset, as we pay even closer attention in order to tease sense out of the horrifying and bizarre events. The final sequence especially is a surreal turn, one that is as viscerally horrifying as it is inscrutable. Morgan, along with writer Eric Vespe, have a bright future in features, and if they, or anyone needed validation of that, this short is like a Master’s Thesis.

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Co-Founder of Short of the Week, Sondhi lives in Brooklyn working as a Curator for Vimeo. Follow his musings on online video, direct distribution and branded content: @jasondhi.
  • frank j Zbink

    Wow what a strange little film. I like how it dose not name the fears, issues and problems we all face at the personal level. It make me wonder how many of us feel the same as AJ Bowen’s character dose, trying to cope and only seeking release/escape from those issues.
    The other thing that I like was to what degree are we willing to find that confort.

  • Ruprecht

    What an utterly awful and pointless film. Did the film-makers not realise that horror is meant to be *about* something? On top of that it’s executed without any panache. Why is this on SOTW?

  • http://twitter.com/kessbd Kess BroekmanDattner

    Ruprecht, I think the people behind this perfectly grotesque, gleefully morbid outing are inviting us to scratch the surface and find our own answers as to what Way could be ‘about’. Refusing plot and character, this is all about mood and symbolism, emotion and nature. It’s not the sort of film some — myself included — might make, but at least they’re working hard to make you feel. And that inevitably lasts longer than any running time, no? Reckon the minute we ask questions beyond what? and move towards why? all sorts of answers come creeping out …

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    The film presents itself as a monster horror, then quite unexpectedly shifts to the psychological. It may be light on conclusions but it creeped me out much more than the predictable gotcha horror of films like paranormal activity. And to me, that’s what good horror should do.

  • Graham

    Yeah, this was sucktastic……..

  • Lana

    Very intense and haunting but still rather engaging, I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it but I strangely did.

  • Lana

    Very intense and haunting but still rather engaging, I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it but I strangely did.

  • niv zigdon

    i should be ashamed of myself for the huge stupid smile i had on while watching this. amazing visuals, but i wish there would be a good reason to what happened, in other words- a bit more depth…but i loved it overall^^

  • Tricia Gadd

    I agree with Niv, I would preferred some type of satisfaction at the end, I don’t like being left with only questions. However, the film is wonderfully gory, I still enjoyed watching.

  • Some dad

    There’s something to be said for open-ended stories, but you have to give the viewer at least a frame of reference

  • rab

    just one question rest forget everything. if the guy has taken out his brain then to throw it out of the window perfectly, too u need a brain, but since his brain was out then what part of his body did the thinking inside and guided him to throw his brain out. m sorry to say that but, it was a brainless act.

  • Robyn

    That was a bit pointless. It would have been better for us to see what he saw. Kind of a waste.