THE HIDEBEHIND opens with an ultra zoomed in shot of what appears to be some sort of textured earth and a slow building score by composer Rob Himebaugh that sets an ominous tone right from the start. The title appears in that classic yellow horror film font we all know and love as the camera spirals and zooms out as we discover the textured earth to be the bark of a tree in the midst of a heavily wooded forest.
I happened to watch this film with headphones on and it truly heightened the experience as the crisp sound design (Matt Schwartz) plays against the ominous score that builds and builds. A backpacker (Robin Collins) appears, seemingly lost, and I laughed as I spotted an ironic “get lost in nature” patch on his backpack. After repeatedly yelling “HELLO!”, hoping for some help, the man, obviously hurt, sits down at the base of a tree to drink the last of his water and tend to his badly bruising ankle and then shit gets WEIRD. I’m staunchly anti-spoilers so I won’t give away just what our backpacker sees, but even if I did, I don’t know that putting it into words would do it justice.
The bewilderment that plays on the backpacker’s face perfectly mirrors what I felt as the audience, moving from intrigue to confusion to terrified disbelief. The script may be meager, but Robin Collins doesn’t need words to express these emotional extremes. In under ten short minutes, Collins gives us a hearty understanding of his character and succeeds in pulling the audience in to experience it all right along with him.
Anyone can make a short film, but not everyone can make a short that’s effective in accomplishing what it sets out to. As a horror short, I’m assuming the goal here was to spook the pants off audiences, and in the case of THE HIDEBEHIND, writer and director Parker Finn not only succeeded but left me wanting more. At just a brisk ten minutes, the short serves as the perfect teaser for what I imagine could be a truly terrifying, fleshed out, full-length feature. THE HIDEBEHIND boasts some unique camera tricks and angles that we don’t typically see, including a 180-degree pan that boomerangs back on itself of the backpacker’s reaction as he tries to comprehend what he sees. This stylish camera work by cinematographer Daniel Clarke is yet another characteristic of the short that made me wonder what this team could achieve when given the opportunity to create a feature.
Shorts aren’t typically my go-to when I sit down to watch something, but THE HIDEBEHIND is one that I can’t wait to show off during the next “what should we watch?” platform scroll fest. For now, I’m content with the spectacular world of Parker Finn’s shorts, but I sure hope he has a horror feature in store for us someday.