Lovingly-made as a homage to the silent, German Expressionist films of the 1920s, THE SCROLL OF MORLOK follows a young woman carrying an old film canister marked only with the short’s title. She screens the film at a small theater and watches what appears to be a silent horror film depicting a seductive vampire. As the suspenseful events of the film unfold on screen, the young woman notices eerie similarities taking place in the actual theater around her. Tension builds before she has a face-to-face encounter with the vampire of the film – standing before her in the movie theater.
Both the film-within-a-film and the short itself act as a cleverly-constructed nod to classics such as Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The filmmakers are clearly devoted fans of this era in cinema, and accurately capture the gothic magic of those masterpieces in their own mockup. Another highlight is realizing that the short is also largely a silent film itself, relying only on visual performance to pay tribute to its influences.
I found every element of this short to be successful, and applaud both the filmmakers and the cast. Expertly-shot, and concisely edited, THE SCROLL OF MORLOK is everything that a good short should be. It doesn’t overstay its welcome, and it leaves the viewer wishing for more. The precise filmmaking works on all levels – the suspense is thrilling, and the visuals are chilling. There’s enough professionalism at play for the short to succeed in being taken seriously, while also allowing for some fun to be had. I can’t recommend it enough.