Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Jennifer Meyer at R & F Entertainment and Writer/Director, Chase Michael Pallante for allowing me early access to an online screener of his debut, 10 minute Horror/Thriller short “Defarious”. Defarious is a confined short centered around Amy (played by the lovely Janet Miranda), a young woman whose being tormented by nightmares of a black-eyed demon. The lines between fiction and reality become blurred when Amy is forced to face her fears head on. The film also stars Jason Torres. Chase was kind enough to reach out to me with his debut short, having heard about adamthemoviegod.com through the vast network of the horror community. This type of support is much appreciated!
Right from word go you can tell exactly what kind of tone Pallante was going for with Defarious. The film opens with a black screen and a rather ominous proverb from the bible, accompanied by an unnerving bass-heavy section of score. The film is a blend between the best of both the paranormal world and the world of the conventional “slasher”. First time DP, Jorge Canaveral keeps the shot types simple and smooth and everything is framed accordingly. I’d like to have seen a bit more diversity in the cinematography but I’m not really sure Chase’s material called for it. The late night setting can often make subtle lighting difficult to gauge, especially with getting the balance right, so kudos go to the crew for doing it well. I’d liken it to the aesthetics of a “Paranormal Activity” film, just without the surveillance presentation. Jonathan Martinez’s abrasive score is perhaps the best creative piece of the Defarious puzzle. There’s a lot of sporadic keyboard/piano playing throughout, reminiscent of a little known film an underrated gem called “Five Fingers”. There’s also tempo changes and fluctuations in sound effects which both work for the uneasy feeling Pallante intended. Miranda’s, Amy has very little dialogue but her emotional performance is mostly consistent and she looks gorgeous too. The villain is certainly a memorable one and it’s hard to believe that Torres is the man beneath the prosthetics, a true testament to the special effects team. The climax showcases what looks like some well conceived practical blood and gore (though IMDB references a dummy replacement so I’m not sure how that all worked).
On the nit picky side of things, the exterior establishing shot of what supposed to be the primary house looks considerably smaller than the inside and all its big open spaces, so I’ll assume it wasn’t the same house (no big deal and apologies if it was). There’s a somewhat forced surprise reaction from Janet two-thirds of the way through the film as she looks from atop the stairs down to the front doors, it was a little weird.
Defarious comes out of the gates strong and maintains maximum suspense for the full length. The premise is a slightly more fleshed out version of similar shorts like A.J Briones “The Smiling Man” *see review* https://adamthemoviegod.com/the-smiling-man-review/ as well as Chad Meisenheimer’s micro short “Nite Nite” *see review* https://adamthemoviegod.com/something-goes-bump-in-the-nite-nite-article/ The camera work is good, the lighting (or lack there of) effective, and the score the most intense I’ve heard in a while. Janet guides Defarious quite well while her character of Amy eventually crosses paths with the downright creepy demon. There’s very little not to like for genre fans and I think Chase’s sophomore effort takes an early lead for the best short film of 2018. I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings us next! Check out the official trailer below and you can also find out more information about the film at the links below.
My rating for “Defarious” is 9/10