Fantastic Fest Review: WATER HORSE

Watching Sarah Wisner and Sean Temple’s short film WATER HORSE made me think of my favorite Lovecraft quote: 

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.”

As a general rule, Lovecraft and I agree on very little, but on this I see his point. We’re likely better off not knowing about every dangerous creature, cruel intention, and potential threat out there. If we were aware of them, no one would ever leave the house.

But the tragic beauty of WATER HORSE, in my interpretation, stems from Lovecraft’s observation—maybe it’s good to be a little bit more wary of the unknown.

In the film, Max (Charlotte Rea) and Dylan (Darren Bailey) are relaxing at the beach with their toddler (Lilith Hurley) when an abandoned row boat drifts to shore. Concerned that someone may have lost it, Dylan goes to the house to call around. But when Max goes to check on his progress, she enters a nightmare impossible to escape.

This eerie short film delivered a massive amount of tension in just under eight minutes. With such a tight runtime the filmmakers had to be both economic and specific. There’s not a wasted shot in WATER HORSE, and that precision pays off. 

I don’t want to say too much about the type of horror Max encounters, as that journey is part of the fun, but I will add this one anecdote. After watching the film, I decided to do a little research into the title of the film, and what I discovered made me love it even more. Sarah Wisner, you found the perfect way to tells us what happened without telling us what happened. My hat’s off to you.

WATER HORSE is a mesmerizing exploration of a nightmare painted in grays, blues, and blood. This is one short you’ll want to check out.

Adrienne Clark
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