Hysteric is as bold and emotionally brutal a 9-minute film as you will see this year, hell maybe ever. Rod Blackhurst has gone out and done his best to traumatise you in the simplest of ways.
At a remote house in Astoria, Oregon, two sisters are suddenly under attack by their mother, who has inexplicably fallen into a bloodthirsty state of madness.
There is nothing at all flashy about his film; in fact, it is its simplicity of it that wrecks you. Told via one long take, we witness two sisters (the fantastic Dolce Demce and Amaya Huneke) run for their lives. The lack of dialogue in Hysteric is what drives it forwards, with the sound design echoing through your ears, unrelenting malice that is only punctuated by the terrified noises of the two siblings. You are as immersed as you can possibly be, thanks to the smart choices made from the start. The camera work is exceptional, with Blackhurst and Justin Derry having to be quite clever to pull off the correct tone.
We are unsettled from the first minute of one of the girls waking up. Is the storm outside causing it, or is it something inside the house? As she navigates around the dark corridor via very smart cinematography of being down at her height, we are on edge as that sound just doesn’t stop going. Once the discovery is made, the film kicks on to the highest level of intensity, levelling you and leaving you in a state of shock. Blackhurst doesn’t turn away here, revelling in horror on show.
What hits you most is at no point do you think you are going to get the film that we eventually see; even as the moments are happening in front of you, you don’t fully believe that they are. A moment is so bold storywise that you realise it had to be that way. There is an inkling that Hysteric is something that could be expanded upon to create a fascinating world. This could merely be the opener. To the point that when the film does end, you could be forgiven for shouting ‘no’ at the screen.
Rod Blackhurst has done a lot of excellent work over the years, and he continues to be a filmmaker who impresses; if you can, catch his other shorts and work here and to watch Hysteric, click on the link below.
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