Salient Minus Ten (British Horror Film Festival)
Starring Alan Austen, Emma Dark, Chris Hampshire
Written and directed by Emma Dark
Following on from the hugely successful Seize the Night, Emma Dark is back with Salient Minus Ten, which could be one of the best horror shorts of the year.
Adam Harper is an average man going about his day, until he mysteriously finds himself teleported into a forest. There, a nameless woman (played by Dark) telepathic promises him his freedom if he completes a set of tasks. There’s not much more to say about the plot, but believe me, what we have is more than enough.
As Harper, Alan Austen painted a brilliant picture of an ordinary man trapped in an extraordinary and sinister situation. Although we don’t learn much about Adam as a character, Austen’s performance in the role made Salient Minus Ten worth watching in itself. Whether he’s begging for his life to be spared, or screaming that he wants out of the game, Austen bought such depth and emotion to the role that the level of desperation felt by Adam was almost palpable. Whilst he had small roles in films such as Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, this is Austen’s first acting role in many years. And I really hope he stays in the acting game, because his performance here was truly spectacular.
If you go into every film expecting to be spooned every small minutia of plot detail, you’ll probably be disappointed with Salient Minus Ten. Because we never find out how Adam was transported into the woods, or why he is being forced to compete in a literal game of death, or who exactly the woman played by Dark was supposed to be, but none of that matters because the story was so effectively too that it felt as if we learned everything that we needed to know. Instead of relying on gore or cheap jump scares to get under your skin, this is a film which asks you to think and connect the dots yourself, and you almost feel as though you want to thank it for that.
It’s only thirteen minutes long, but Salient Minus Ten is a film get under your skin a great deal more than many features released today will. If her future projects prove to be anywhere near as well made, it’s probably safe to say that Emma Dark will go on to become a leading figure in the horror industry. And I can’t wait to see what she does next.