As I’ve mentioned time and time again here on Short of the Week, when it comes to horror I prefer “creepy” rather than “gory.” Well, Toby Meakins’s Breathe obliges my taste to a tee. In this bite-sized horror short, we are treated to a perfectly eerie ghost story—a tale of a supernatural being that you can only see when you hold your breath. It’s a high concept idea that somehow feels pretty fresh when nestled amongst a genre that is so often rooted in cliché (i.e. scary dolls, zombies, haunted houses). More to the point, Meakins sets up the supernatural situation quickly and effortlessly. This isn’t a jump scare film. Rather, it’s a short shrouded in a fog of ominous, continued suspense. Like the characters therein, you too might find yourself holding your breath as the events on screen unfold, eventually culminating in a grim conclusion.
Adorned with stellar production values, Breath, is undoubtedly a polished piece of work. The cinematography and location are both stunning. And, the performances, featuring Josef Atlin (Game of Thrones), are solid. The film had an impressive festival run, snagging the Maria Best Short Film award at Sitges International Film Festival. Considering the film’s success, it’s no surprise that Meakins’s is priming the film to eventually be made as a feature.
Believe or not, Meakins originally developed this project 8 years ago as a standalone feature film. Just as production was slated to move forward, the recession hit and things were put on an unfortunate hiatus. Now, it seems that Meakins and his writing partner may finally be putting the pieces back together, using this short as a “calling card” to finally get the feature version made.
Meakins first caught our eye last year with another bite-size horror film, Lot254, which was staff picked on Vimeo. But, whereas that film, while impeccably constructed, felt a bit conventional in its scares, Breathe feels like a breathe of fresh air (sorry…couldn’t resist). It’s a film predicated more on atmosphere and an original premise rather than “boo” moments. Do I wish the film felt a bit deeper? Yes, but considering how stale short horror films often feel, Breathe serves us here at Short of the Week just fine. Plus, that just leaves us clamoring for the eventual feature adaptation. Here that Hollywood producers? Start writing those checks…