The cold weather and the dark nights are truly creeping in as autumn affirms itself around us. Pumpkin spice lattes are back on the coffee shop menus while the leaves on the trees transform into fiery hues. But now is the season for more diabolical things than fall colours and cinnamon flavours – now is the spooky season for horror films and ghost stories as Halloween heralds its coming in the next fortnight.
Not that we need many more frights and scares after this stinker of a year, but I will readily admit that I am one of those odd people who finds comfort in the horror genre. There is something to be said about the adrenaline rush one feels when a ghoulish creature reeks havoc on some poor unsuspecting friendship group or a vengeful spirit upsets the family equilibrium; it’s as if a release of one’s own anxieties takes place. I always love finding an excuse to binge watch a few classic horror thrillers and engaging with new editions to the genre is always a tantalising prospect.
Close Your Eyes, I’m Filming is the horror film of our times. As all of us have spent many long months in isolation, with many artists having to adapt to the new normal of digitally produced, remotely accessed content, the world of this film is starkly relevant to this new age of socially distanced performance. Directed by Lex Kaby, written by Douglas Murdoch and devised by Greedy Pig Theatre Company, Sam Cattee and Matt Rawlings, this half way between short and feature film delves into the darker side of our digital world and the infernal influence of influencer culture.
We are thrown into the madcap life of Daisy the vlogger (played by Sam Cattee), a rising star of the YouTube scene whose hunger to make it to the number one trending spot knows no bounds. With the help of her rather long suffering boyfriend, Nathan (played by Matt Rawlings), Daisy engages in viral trends old and new in her bid to gain more subscribers, but things take an unexpected turn when objects in the young couple’s home begin to mysteriously move around the house.
This is a masterfully realised horror flick with some brilliantly nuanced performances from the film’s two leads. With the found-footage narrative framing, a lot of responsibility rests upon the shoulders of the actors to portray these characters with highly focused naturalism and both Cattee and Rawlings pull this off with complete ease. Cattee portrays Daisy’s descent into tyrannical divadom with frightening realism, tracing the stark changes in her on and off camera personalities with precision. Indeed, the construction of this film’s narrative, while not ground breaking within the horror genre, is nonetheless skilfully orchestrated. You can tell that this is a film made by horror/thriller fans and the twists that unfold are cleverly handled.
Fans of the Paranormal Activity franchise will enjoy the self aware call backs to that recent horror classic, but even more so the ways in which this narrative flips the tropes of those found-footage films on their head. Indeed, the true horror of Close Your Eyes, I’m Filming cannot be chalked up to any demonic haunting but rather to something far more frighteningly real, which only serves to make the film that much more chilling.
So as All Hallow’s Eve draws closer and the things that go bump in the night grow more restless, why not treat yourself to this spooky little film? It certainly is more treat than trick.