There’s an old Monty Python bit about how a king stands out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark. It’s an insult because they mean the king is like a stream of piss, but it doesn’t have to be rude.
When I say that The Crypt Club is like a shaft of gold when all around is dark, I mean to say that it was one of the few strong short films in an otherwise depressingly bland slate of movies at the Rhode Island International Horror Film Festival this last weekend. I’ll be writing more about RIIFF over the next week or two but very few of the movies I’ll be writing about are as good as The Crypt Club.
The 23-minute movie is about acceptance, ethics, and teenage girls – all fertile ground for horror to be sure.
Liesl and Pearl are driving the new girl in town, Julie, to a local graveyard for her initiation into their clique, the Crypt Club. When they arrive, the two girls confront Julie with a difficult choice: desecrate a grave as her initiation or face high school in a new town with no friends. Against her better judgment, Julie agrees.
And, once embarked upon her journey, a series of horrific events – both supernatural and terribly human – befall not only Julie but also the bully Liesl and sympathetic Pearl.
The Crypt Club is a notable short for being strong in almost every area many short horror films are weak: script, production values, acting.
The three actresses anchor the film’s realism, conveying well the sense of floating fear that teenagers wallow in. Production values are high, with particular attention paid to sound design (something crucial to horror films that many shorts neglect). The strong script is used in a smart, recursive way that gives earlier words new resonance as the film’s unfolds.
Though The Crypt Club doesn’t try to break new ground or reach too far, it doesn’t have to. For a short film, an audience should expect is a well-executed premise, tight production, and solid acting, and The Crypt Club has all those things and more.
Writer/director Gallejo’s next project, whatever it is, deserves attention.