From the title alone, one could guess this 2:00-minute computer-animated horror short would sport a twist somewhere in the story. However INSEYED, created by Jess Hudak as a thesis project in her last undergrad year at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, definitely subverts your expectations more than once.

Beginning with a young girl, a doll by design, staring into her reflection and seeing something amiss. From there, the story twists several times to a darker and darker place. It’s short and I don’t want to give anything away but, while I guessed the first twist, I didn’t see the macabre finale coming. And that’s impressive. As someone who prides herself in guessing the turns of well-worn horror tropes, this short did catch me by surprise.

If I can give any notes on the piece, it’s in the execution. But that feels unfair considering this was a project developed in learning a form. Regardless, the animation is clunky. The world beautiful but flat and the movement of the characters jerky. The design is fun and creepy but missing those little details that would take it from a video game cut-scene to a film. However, this wasn’t meant to be a showcase of limits but a taste of what Hudak could make. And by that standard, INSEYED is really cool, deserves a watch and the director is worth paying attention to wherever she goes from here. Plus the title *chefs kiss.

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