Firstly, I’d just like to say thanks to both Writer, John Rice and Director, Adrienne Lovette for allowing me access to an early screener of their 18 minute, Horror/Thriller short, “Hidden Daylight”. Hidden Daylight is the story of a businessman (played by David Rey) whose seeking answers after his wife (Ella Jane New) is abducted by a sadistic killer. The man visits a blind psychic (John Rice) who has the ability to see through the eyes of the deranged psychopath. What will the man learn about his wife’s fate? The film also stars Rica de Ocampo and Adrienne Lovette.
This is Rice’s first screenplay and an intriguing one at that. Hidden Daylight’s definitely an interesting concept. The path chosen sees the details of a disappearance conveyed through a secondary channel (the psychic), rather than just your typical Sherlock Holmes goes digging for clues type of narrative. My favourite sequence in the short involves the masked killer sneaking into an apartment to capture the wife. The shots of the unit looked great, particularly when combined with a semi split screen framing, that has the audience using one eye to look at her on the balcony and the other on the killer at the door. There’s an ongoing, ambient keyboard score throughout that compliments the short nicely. The intensity is amplified where it’s required, to accentuate part of the plot development. The performances are solid all around and Rice’s diction in his verbal interaction with Rey is really calm and controlled, I dug that. As for the killer, he or she is pretty conventional looking (white mask and black clothes) but remains creepy none the less.
Most of the issues I had with Hidden Daylight were surrounding its technical aspects. Don’t worry though because I was pleased to learn that the version I watched is an early screener and the film is still in post production, so keep that in mind as you read on. The dialogue audio is a little quite in a few places, especially when combined with the score and sound effects. It’s a stylistic decision and just a personal preference but a lot of the camera work here is handheld, something I’m not a huge fan of. The camera often rotates back and forth side to side ever so slightly, occasionally it works well but more often than not it’s just distracting movement. The last sequence of the film stood out the most because in several frames the camera is completely out of focus. At first I thought it was just visual representation of a particular character being drugged, or hallucinating but when nothing happened to validate that I just realized it was poorly executed. I thought Rey’s acting was really good but I hoped his character would be straighter, a little more sympathetic and the ending was good but if I’m honest, I didn’t like the last bit that was tagged on.
Being from a first time writer and a fresh new director, Hidden Daylight is a cool little indie suspense/thriller. The screenplay is mostly solid, some of the shots are cleverly executed and the music helps carry it. The most positive aspect is the natural performances from the cast and the interesting killer and the way in which he or she is presented. Other than a couple of needless frames at the very end I can’t fault the development side of things. A few of the technical gripes are easily fixable and the camera work is just down to personal preference. The big thing is the out of focus stuff, which is where my rating drops away, definitely a concern and will hopefully be something that’s addressed before the films official release. That being said, Hidden Daylight is still well worth 18 minutes of your time, so keep an eye out for this one soon!
My rating for “Hidden Daylight” is 6/10