Surprising, frightening and haunting. The latest short film released by 4 League Media and written as well as directed by Daniel Robinette surrounds the tale of a boy named Solomon (Jared Cook) who has been left to fend for himself by his mother in the darkest of times and deep within the woods in TETHERED. Playing on the premises of survival based horror, TETHERED is such a simple story yet it creates tension similar to the short film CURVE, which found great success last year.
TETHERED follows Solomon on his daily routine as we all listen to a tape recording with crucial instructions from his mother to follow three mandatory rules. These rules are the challenge to not only Solomon but the viewer as we see the story unfold through a combination of editing, location and pace. With each moment that goes by, we learn of Solomon’s circumstances that have put him in a much more mature place without his mother who we are not sure what has happened too. Solomon uses his intelligence and instinct to extend his boundaries. The film, like a sprint, starts off slow and with each movement, step, breath and word from his mother, becomes an exposed nerve stinging both the character and viewer through smart framing, movement and placement. This allows the action to pick up within the frame, taking you further away from the safety and what may be at the end of the rope.
TETHERED was filmed in a beautiful forest location that builds both solitude as well as isolation wonderfully through space, sound and light. We sit back no only taking in the colors, space and textures but the forest harnesses a paranoia created by the isolation of the home and Solomon’s struggle as he is anchored to the house by the rope and pushing the boundaries set up by his mother’s warning. TETHERED was shot during the daytime and not a night, which for me, was so effective in building more an instinctive fear for Solomon then if it was placed at night. Not only do these factors work together to create an effective visual platform for the short form narrative to unfold but the score and sound recording, especially off the tape player, sends chills as with each playing we hear the gritty sound of tape and the developing warning come more into clarity. One of the greatest aspects of the found footage and infection sub-genre of horror is the developing warning message which Robinette utilizes to inject fear and caution.
TETHERED has a European feel to the overall costuming, colors, location and makeup created. It reminds me of the feature film THE HALLOW and some of the latest Irish based thrillers and horror films. In the end, TETHERED is an early favorite to be among my favorite shorts of 2017. It entrances, fulfills and is smart of many levels including a payoff that rips your heart out.