Bad Cookie Pictures has brought us a riveting and mysterious story with the short film NEPENTHES. A short film tends to find itself using a short cast, as was that case with this tale. Max (Ariel Slack) is the only actress with any focus, besides a handful of coffee house patrons and the profile pictures we see of Venus (Tristan Risk) who Max has made a life-changing match with on a dating app. We’ve all heard the beginning of this tale before, whether in childhood stranger-danger warnings, or in Creepypasta urban legends; to be careful of who we trust, especially in our current day and age.
I am always looking for a good horror story that deals with current technology. It warns us of the real dangers that we face everyday, right now. We may think we are smart enough to detect anything that seems fishy, or someone who might be out to hurt us. We are glued to our phones, assuming we are safe because we may be ignorant to some of the true threats that come with technology that is progressing at a lightening rate. It’s a truly terrifying concept when we realize just who might have bad intentions against us.
Without giving anything away, the end of this film is a twist I wasn’t expecting, with a shout out to one of my personal favorite classic horror icons. The practical effects are also worth applauding. Special-effects makeup is highly praised in the horror community in general for its representation of horror filmmaking as the true art when done right. My only criticism is that I wish there was a little more in the prop department as far as size or span of the monster.
Is this a short film aiming to criticize our use of our phones for personal connections instead of reaching out to tangible people, nature, and the world around us? Could be. Whether or not it has a message, or is simply a fun and scary story, this is a short I could see going on to get at least a few nods in short film festivals!