It Began Without Warning
Santiago C. Tapia
Santiago C. Tapia
Jenna C. Johnson
Thomas R. Martin
There’s not much story to this (and basically no dialogue) – it’s more about the immediate and intense thrills and the completely unanswered questions – all thrown into a quick and tense 5-minute short. One could imagine that this piece is simply a “proof-of-concept” film – with the hopes of something bigger (a feature length film?) down the road.
The film borrows heavily from child horror classics (children are terrifying!) like Children of the Corn and Village of the Damned, but it also takes a hearty cue from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
It’s a great bit of misdirection at the film’s outset – helped along by a long one-take opening shot, as we journey through the apartment which is the film’s main setting – seeing the immediate aftermath of a horrific event – which we will quickly learn, is still on-going.
With great gore effects by veteran FX-masters Sierra and Josh Russell (most remembered by me for their insane work in the “Accident” segment of Southbound and the insta-classic Beyond the Gates).
And the juicy, grotesque (Basketcase-esque) reveal of what’s behind all of this violent and merciless death – is easily the film’s highlight. So more kudos to the Russell FX team!
Performances are all solid, with the adults properly terrified and the children appropriately creepy. That final shot looking over the balcony is a hoot! But again, with no dialogue – everything must be portrayed through body language and just plain emotion. Probably the best work (other than the children as a whole eerie group) comes from the unnamed woman hiding in the closet (Leslie Gladney). If there’s a lead performance, I guess it’s her. She screams, cries and whimpers – basically everything you’d expect of someone in her situation… and Gladney makes us believe it all.
There is no character development here – it’s one of those “punchline” horror shorts (which I happen to personally adore)… get in, and get out. But there’s so much potential for a feature version – even though it feels like proper credit should be paid to Jack Finney (author of the original The Body Snatchers novel) for such a similar premise.
Most intriguing about the piece is the aforementioned absence of any answered questions. I seriously want to know more. What’s the old saying? “Always leave ‘em hanging”. And that’s exactly what this short will do.
Playing at several film festivals (including this weekend’s HollyShorts in Hollywood) – this will be a welcome addition to any short film block. It was nominated for SXSW Grand Jury Award at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.
Fun bit of trivia: the film is executive-produced by Couper Samuelson (Get Out, The Purge series, Oscar-winning Whiplash).
A whip-snap fast horror treat, It Began without Warning is certainly fun, but holds the promise of so much more. So hopefully the short does well and the obvious feature film will find its way to production.
No wider release information (online or otherwise) is yet available.