“Filmed through chocolate milk” –Crow T. Robot, MST3k: Track of the Moon Beast

Main Cast: Joseph Kathrein, Athena Isabel Lesessis

Director: Diane Michelle

Well, this shouldn’t take long because really, there’s so little to work with.  The latest ALTER short is called GOODNIGHT, written and directed by Diane Michelle (BOO!) and starring Joseph Kathrein (Locke & Key), Athena Isabel Lebessis (REVENGE OF THE MASK) and Penelope Piccirilli (her only role so far).

This 8:47 short is “about” a mother and father, Carrie and William, putting their daughter, Lucy, to bed and later Carrie hears a voice coming from somewhere in the house.  She runs into Lucy’s room and asks who she was talking to.  Lucy says “Billy” and claims he lives under her bed.  Her mother says no one lives under your bed, then very shakily pulls up the blanket to prove it, more to herself than her daughter.  But something does live under there.

And then, in a scene I’m only guessing actually happened (see: reason #2 below), Dad comes in and tells Lucy not to worry, Billy doesn’t hurt little girls.

That’s the bulk of the action and I’m left wondering what actually happened because 1) there seemed to be a LOT left unsaid between the characters and 2) as many of the video’s comments said, “LIGHTS ARE A THING.”  Not that you’d know it from GOODNIGHT, they never turn them on.  95% of this thing is shot in the dark and at first I thought it was the angle of my computer screen, but no amount of adjusting helped; it’s just DARK.  And that sucks because it not only takes away from whatever impact the visuals on screen are supposed to have, it also distracts greatly from me giving a sh*t at all.

I refuse to believe anyone watched this back before it was released and said, “Yeah, that’s the one.”  You can’t see anything AND everything we CAN make out is just so damn ambiguous, we’re left with nothing to take away from the experience.

I could comment on the performances, but, again, there’s so little here, it’s hard to find the words.  Joseph Kathrein is just creepy from the start, but at first it seems that’s due to a rift between the parents, but then they start to get frisky in bed so maybe not?  What details I was able to glean from the closing scene between William and Lucy, I got definite creeper vibes, but how that plays into Billy and what happens to the mother is never made clear, despite a dropped line in the middle from the mother about how cigarettes cause insomnia and maybe that’s why he’s always up late at night doing “whatever” he does.  I mean, I can project a developed plot onto GOODNIGHT about what I ASSUME is going on, but I shouldn’t have to. 

Athena Lebessis as Carrie is … well, she’s there.  I didn’t get a lot of development from her character, either.  She gives it a go in the middle, but is, honestly, given almost NOTHING to work with.

I’ve seen a lot of short films in and out of the horror genre, and I know how much can be accomplished in under 9 minutes of screen time.  What little “plot” this one contains could have been done in about 3 minutes with the next 6 being devoted to explaining something, ANYTHING.  And with the complete lack of lighting, I can’t even say it was visually interesting.  GOODNIGHT was just a big letdown.  If you’re going to tell what is, essentially, a boogeyman under the bed story, do something new with the trope.  Hell, do ANYTHING with it.

If you really want to watch it, GOODNIGHT is free on YouTube.

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