By Andrew Buckner
**** out of *****.
Director and screenwriter Nic Carcieri’s six minute short, Blood Moon, is a triumph of craft, storytelling and cinematic art. It is an intelligent, suspenseful, tightly paced horror endeavor credited with a sharp focus on captivating viewers through ever illusive mystery. This angle makes it immediately accessible for the audience to get into the mentality of its charismatic lead, Alex (Alexandra Cipolla in a wonderfully layered performance). Such is especially true as she finds that tragedy has befallen her husband, Zach (Topher Hansson in a strong and quietly compelling portrayal). Here the collective moments of this brief, yet sharp and undoubtedly proficient, piece come together. We feel every ounce of the increasing heart-break, sorrow and the pain Alex is going through. Moreover, this attribute heightens the intrigue.
Such is beautifully introduced in the opening seconds. During this time, Alex and Zach drive down a lonely and deserted road on their wedding night. They are blissful and visibly full of love for one another. It is the perfect set-up for the always gripping, and sentimentally varied, experience which follows. This also makes the proceedings, especially in retrospect, all the more grimly poetic, haunting and surreal.
This is just one of many wise moves on behalf of the moviemaking crew. There is also a flashback scene introduced around the two minute mark. It gorgeously illustrates Zach’s proposal to Alex. From this point the film flashes forward to exquisitely conceived glimpses into the couple’s wedding. Though this instance lasts approximately twenty seconds it succeeds as in-depth character development. This brief span is operative at getting us to know Zach and Alex. It is so efficient at this task that when she wakes up afterward, her white wedding dress covered in blood, to the unfortunate circumstances mentioned beforehand that the transition in tone becomes all the more riveting.
Carcieri lands the first of several unexpected blows here. This adds curiosity. It also brings to a zenith the evocative nature that the almost too idyllic segments that came before it seemed to hint at quietly. Furthermore, it becomes the centerpiece of the tale; an item which Carcieri utilizes to rapidly increase our concern for Alex and her situation. It is also sharply maneuvered to keep the intensity ever-mounting. This is a brilliant move. It proves a perfect example of how well-orchestrated the narrative, especially Carcieri’s spellbindingly written script, remains. Such impact comes again in a rousing finale that ends on an equally potent note. Characters we come to know as The Stranger (Michael Thurber in an ominous and commanding turn) and Kaine (Jose Gonsalves in an excellent portrayal) are especially terrific in this late section.
What also makes this composition so stalwart is that all technical facets are outstanding. The cinematography by James R. DeMello is crisp and vibrant. It perfectly captures the sunny disposition the recently wed individuals must be feeling in its early sections. When the account turns to terror in its last four minutes the veneer is endlessly atmospheric. It resonates ample beauty in both its joyous and frightening turns. The same can be said for the endeavor itself. This is further complimented by elegantly fashioned editing by DeMello. The make-up and visual effects by Christina Cook and Greg Easton are stellar. This production is further assisted by hypnotic title and end credit sequences by Marguerite Cass. Here a procession of endlessly imaginative images are summoned. This captures the enchanting, eerie and gothic impression of the exertion masterfully.
Blood Moon is genuinely effective. It gets its authoritative command as much from what it informs its spectators of as much as what it ultimately leaves unsaid. This is an example of the genre of fear working at its peak through nuance and proficient skill. There are many nods to the approach of similarly themed classics. Regardless, the effort is distinctly its own entity. It is a smart, character-driven, beautifully done and unsettling. In the tradition of the best horror works, the composition will have you mentally re-evaluating its chain of events. Most importantly, it will have you looking over your shoulder long after its shudder-inducing conclusion.