Pieces is a short film by writer/director Dan Sunley. It is first venture into horror with his previous feature ‘Your Fired!!!’ residing in the comedy section of the video store, and what a fantastic first impression he has made – and a lasting one at that.
The story of ‘Pieces’ opens as a young lady Isabella takes reluctant responsibility for tidy up the affairs at the house of her recently deceased grandmother. The rest of the family make their excuses not to come to the house, but dutifully she is undeterred. Whilst the majority of the houses content are your standard old lady sort of things, two items stand out which show that dearest Nanna might have had a darker side to her. Amongst the belongings an old chest resides in the attic containing parts of a jigsaw puzzle and amongst her other household items a scrap book adorned in a range of occult symbols contains one final piece of the aforementioned puzzle. Amidst the symbols and arcane writing resides one instruction – ‘finish it’. It’s not long before the spooky stuff happens and I got scared!
I say this time and time again, fans of BTG knows I (G) am a sucker for traditional supernatural movies, and this hits the nail on the head big time. The most striking thing about this movie is its production value. Whilst I have no specifics, it no doubt defies its budget. First off the aesthetics are textbook creepy. Long, elongated shorts of wooden loft beams with sprawling shadows cast by the soft light of a flickering lamp, external shots of an isolated house against the backdrop of an inky sky, internal shots of a vacant house devoid of life, but crowded with memories. In the hands of a less competent team this could have easily been cliché, here, when combined with the effective score, it just adds to the tension.
Despite being a short film the plot plays out well, and the exposition is evenly spaced between the scare sequences. The back story to pieces is told through flashback or dream sequences which introduce the films strange antagonist (credited as ‘The Ghoul’), and the scare sequences take clear influence from both traditional horror and more recent high profile horrors. Indeed my only real criticism of the film comes from the fact that many of the scary bits are a little too heavily influenced by such titles – the lock box in the attic being a bit of a ringer to that of the equivalent scene in ‘Sinister’ and allegory of the puzzle being, well a little close to the overarching plot of another more recent psychological horror whose name is not to be uttered in our household!
That said, the initial setup to the story had me hooked, and despite the predicable scare tactics ‘Pieces’ continued to impress with its pay off. Indeed the scare scenes had me with almost every bump, bang and chilling shadow. I’ve made reference to tension and atmosphere, and it’s to the credit of the films attention to both the details that it is as scary as it is; bearing in mind there are a good handful of effective scares delivered in the same amount of runtime it takes some films to get past the opening credits! Whilst I don’t think anyone is going to call ‘Pieces’ original from this perspective, the jump scares are delivered with gusto and the use of the ‘creature’ in its various mediums do well to give it some substance too. My only real niggle in this department would be with the ending, which, whilst drawing the films plot to a satisfying conclusion, is not as chilling as I thought the climax might turn out to be.
Overall, however, credit where it is very much deserved, director Dan Sunley and his team at Cappuccino Studios have made one of the most effective supernatural horror segments I have ever seen, and the devil was truly in the details. My verdict a solid 4/5, and for a 5 star feature length, I would like to see more of the same with a more subtle and chilling ‘Goul’.
‘Pieces’ is tense, scary, well shot, well-acted, and most definitely well worth your time.