Dir. John Thomson (2022)
Strange things lurk in the darkness, even in the places that seem safe.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Shot in black-and-white and taking place entirely on the dark streets of Bath, England, John Thomson’s new short 11PM follows random citizens as they go about their lives, awaiting that magical late hour. Thomson uses quick cuts to disorient the audience, giving bits and pieces of the surrounding stories to up the anxiety before the true horror is revealed. It’s a beautifully shot short, an artistically-oriented film with some real creepiness at its core. It also features one of the scariest poems I’ve ever heard in my life, truly terrifying stuff with a great voiceover to make it even more ominous. It’s a mix between found footage and clever cinematographic shots, bounding back and forth so that the audience can never catch its footing to see quite where the film is heading.
One fair critique that I would have is that the film is a bit too much style over substance. Thomson clearly knows his way around the camera, creating a visually compelling piece with some truly frightening moments. However, the actual narrative structure leaves a little to be desired, as the thirty minute run-time could’ve probably been cut in half and not lost any of its oomph. Once the ball starts rolling roughly two-thirds of the way into the film though, the film becomes relatively straight-forward after that, delivering a great portrayal of the dangers in everyday life.
There is a certain necessity to show the other background pieces around the central plot, as the audience is shown how these horrible things can happen in a seemingly mundane world. The monotony underscores the potential danger that may lurk in the shadows, beyond the glimpse of those who are too involved with what’s happening in the light. You never know, despite how normal everything around you may appear, if someone (or something) is watching you and waiting for their moment to strike. There’s enough here to be truly frightening, though I would argue that cutting a bit of the background could’ve tightened up a bit without losing the impact of the scares. All in all, a great effort from John Thomson and Pixels Not Included, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next!
Who this movie is for: Short film fans, Indie lovers, Nightlifers
Bottom line: Featuring some excellent shots and competent camerawork, 11PM is a fantastic short film that is well worth a watch. Yet another indie filmmaker from the UK that is killing it, John Thomson is a name to watch. He clearly focuses on the artistic side of horror, and I can't wait to see more from him.