Look Twice (2018) Short Film Review

Poster for 2018 Look Twice Horror Short Film

Look Twice is a short film I screened at this year’s FilmQuest (the 5th annual) in Provo, Utah.

Night shift security guard Darren (Darren Lee Campbell) arrives to take over for co-worker Larry (Rick Montgomery, Jr.). They work in a large auto parts warehouse/junkyard. Larry departs and Darren is left alone to pass the time. Late into the evening, he spots a strange figure on one of the security cameras as it wanders about in the lot outside. When he announces via an outdoor loudspeaker – that the person is trespassing – it does nothing but make the figure aware of Darren’s presence. Oops.

The film owes a debt of gratitude to the short film (and later feature) juggernaut Lights Out. It also takes advantage of the seemingly “in vogue” horror concept of sleep paralysis.

While it’s not particularly original in concept – it still manages to elicit some good jumps and nifty suspense in a run-time which is just over seven minutes. And the clearly authentic location (what appears to be a vast working garage/auto parts shop) was an asset. Although – I think the film’s chase could have been extended to take further advantage of this great location.

I do see from the film’s website, that a feature script for Look Twice is already in the works. I get that this short is certainly a proof-of-concept piece – but I wish that the story would have given just a tad more in the character development categories. We get only that this job for Darren is purely transitional – and that’s about it.

Campbell’s performance is fine, but based on the lack of character development which I’ve just outlined – there’s frankly not much for him to do but react.

Then again – in these short films, which I’ve termed “punchline shorts” – it’s all about a quick set-up and some quick scares – sort of a “get in, get out” way of making movies. But even the teensiest bit of character history would have been easy to accomplish and would have helped to flesh things out.

What most sets the film apart is the very eerie performance from actor Troy James as the figure (listed on IMDb as “shadow entity”) which catches Darren’s attention. His work garnered a special award at this year’s FilmQuest for “Outstanding Physical Performance”. And from what I understand, the creature movement is all on James – practically nothing added as far as post-production effects.

It’s a nice change from the “black stringy-haired, contortionist girls with the creaky joints” of so many horror films over the past two decades. The entity’s movements are smooth and more ghost-like. I appreciated this unique (and creepy) quality. And every time it appears (whether “live” or via the security cameras) it’ll elicit some legit chills.

The film is still being seen (via security cams?) on the festival circuit, so stay tuned for showings in your area.

Lesson learned here? When working alone, late at night – don’t call attention to yourself, even if your job demands it. Leave well enough alone.

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