Pedestrian underpasses are scary enough in real life with the threat of everything from aggressive panhandlers to muggers and rapists. Surprisingly these dark, claustrophobic spaces haven’t really been exploited in horror films, with the exception of Mike Flanagan’s Absentia. Now sound man turned director Ryan Graff and writer Daniel Shafer step up with Black Moon, an eight-minute short that will have you taking the long way home to avoid using one.
The plot is breathtakingly simple. A Black Moon is the second new moon in the same month. It allegedly causes odd, random supernatural occurrences. During one in 2014 a young mother, played by Fabienne Tournet is lured into a tunnel by a young girl sobbing. Once inside she finds herself unable to leave, and something is in there with her.
The basic idea of being trapped with an evil entity is nothing new. Where Black Moon makes itself stand out is how it tells the story. Visual effects are kept to a minimum. Even the way they depict her inability to leave the tunnel is done with effective camera work.
As I mentioned. Graff earns his living in the audio department, primarily as a sound mixer. And he uses that experience to full effect here. Black Moon is driven by the sound design of Nathan Ruyle and Adam Hill’s score. Letting the audio, rather than the visual be the film’s main focus is a risky move but the results are striking.
It’s easy to talk about imagination, and it creating images that are worse than what could be shown. However, it’s rare that it actually happens in modern film. The original version of The Hitcher is a prime example of getting it right. In Black Moon, it’s used to suggest the presence of the unseen creature. The score and the actions on screen are perfectly synchronized, the sound becoming the presence of what we don’t see.
Black Moon will be playing festivals through the summer where Graff hopes it will help him launch an anthology project. You can check for updates on its Facebook page.