Michael Kratochvil successfully unsettles his audience once his film I Call Upon Thee gets going. With strong performances from the young actresses, this is a short you won’t soon forget.
“It’s not, dad. It’s worse.” Two young sisters in an unhappy home perform an incantation to summon… something… anything in the hopes of bettering their circumstances.
We all know not to invoke any spirit, but we are adults and have seen enough films to know better. So what happens when two children who are desperate to escape their family situation decide that their only option is to call out for a spirit? Chaos, that’s what. After a couple of minutes of finding its feet with the two sisters, Kratochvil shows us how much of a mistake it is in his unsettling short.
We start with the two sisters practising, and we get to see the power dynamic between the two and their home life. It is important to get those moments with just the two siblings together, as, without it, we may not feel as close to them as we do later on as their night gets progressively more sinister.
The darkness comes and drowns this poor, average family (that obviously has issues) in a manner that can only be described as grim. I Call Upon Thee lives and dies by the performances of its two young leads, and Asher Bryans and Anna Cooke are both excellent. They are all in with their characters, and when the film goes dark, they make it all work very well. Their performances are primarily about facial reactions, which could be dangerous with young actors. Here though, you buy into what is happening to them quickly as their night spirals. When Nia tries to reassure Jo that she will be okay, you feel for them as characters. This is too much for their young souls, and their night only gets worse from there.
The budget for the film shows a touch towards the end when what was invoked comes on screen, but that is par for the course for a movie like this and doesn’t at all deter you from what you are watching. Kratochvil goes hard for the final shots, almost disturbingly so, and it will catch you well off guard from what had come before it. You will be in a mild state of shock at what is shown in I Call Upon Thee; whether it counts as necessary or not is up to you, but goodness, is it memorable.
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