Despite my love for horror shorts, I have to admit that I kind of cringe a little bit each time a new one crosses my desk. While horror is a natural genre for low-budget filmmaking, the painful truth is that lots of folks try but few succeed in making a truly high quality indie horror short.
However, there are exceptions and L.U.N.A. is one of the exceptions.
Directed by Blake Vaz, L.U.N.A. kicks off with field technician Lillian (Fernanda Romero) arriving at her last house of the day. She works for a tech company called L.T.O. and her arrival at this obviously older home runs parallel to an argument she's having with her boss on the phone about her long hours. She's welcomed into the gothic-style home by Jamie (Lauren Bair) and Sarah (Lauren DeShane), a happy couple who've only recently acquired the home from Sarah's grandfather. They're having trouble with their L.U.N.A. system - think Alexa with a much creepier design and a pyramidal shape. Initially finding nothing wrong with the system, Lillian prepares to leave but Jamie and Sarah have further evidence that something's awry.
Tracing the system's flaw, Lillian heads to the unexplored basement where she becomes convinced that someone, or something, is trapped within the basement's walls.
L.U.N.A. is, indeed, an exception among indie horror shorts with a strong ensemble cast, effective and suspense-filled lensing by Daniel Andres and Gomez Bagby, and atmospheric music co-created by director Blake Vaz with Julio Cervantes. All of this adds up to a 10-minute short film that creates a sense of suspense and dread in telling a story that more hints at actual horror than shows it but effectively works because we're always expecting disaster to strike.
Indeed, the sense of dread is palpable.
While there is a hint of obviousness in the storytelling, L.U.N.A. builds characters that we actually care about and a story that feels like an up-to-date version of a classic Vincent Price film.
In case you're wondering, that's a definite compliment.
L.U.N.A. has been proving to be quite successful on the indie fest circuit with prizes at Phoenix Shorts (Best Horror/Thriller Short), Giallo International Film Festival (Best Director), and Official Latino Film Festival (Best Horror Short) among others.
L.U.N.A. is a definite winner. Weaving together ample amounts of suspense and a story that feels fully realized within the film's ten-minute running time, L.U.N.A. toys with your mind and then makes a quick getaway.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic