As Cult Affairs begins Mr. James (Nygel Sejismundo) finds himself in a very bad place. He tried to double-cross a cult and now finds himself tied to a chair in the office of its leader (Nate Thompson). There is going to be hell to pay, possibly in a most literal way.
A six-minute short written and directed by Nate Thompson, Cult Affairs isn’t what you would expect from the description., On the surface, it feels more like a crime film, Thompson’s character could easily have been a mob boss addressing a disloyal underling. Just replace “cult” and “subculture” with “gang” and “family”. The baseball bat is appropriate either way.
It’s the look of Cult Affairs that marks it as horror though. Dark and with everything seen through a smoky haze. The only light coming from a small candle and what looks like a large flame outside the far window. Combined with Cinematographer Javon Harris’ use of unusually angled shots it makes the room look literally hellish. When the leader asks “Do you believe in the Devil?” it’s enough to make you wonder if they indeed are in hell.
Apart from writing and directing, Thompson also carries Cult Affairs with his performance. Sejismundo acts convincingly terrified as the bound and gagged Mr. James but Thompson has all the lines. His delivery is calm, cold and chilling, much like Patrick Stewart in Green Room. And when we finally see him, masked and holding his bat the resemblance to pro wrestler Sting when he was doing his Crow gimmick was unmistakable.
One problem I did have with Cult Affairs though was the sound. I had considerable difficulty making out a lot of the dialogue on my PC. It’s hooked up to an old, but still good, 5.1 surround system so I know it wasn’t the speakers. Thankfully rewatching it with headphones on took care of the problem.
Cult Affairs is definitely worth the six minutes it takes to watch it, it’s one of the best shorts I’ve seen since We Die Alone. I’ve embedded it at the end of the review, and you can get more details about it from its Facebook page.