DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?
Firstly, I just want to say thank you to Co-Writers and Directors, Justin McConnell and Serena Whitney for allowing me access to an online screener of their 14 minute, Horror/Sci-fi short, “Do You See What I See”. Tis’ the season to be jolly and Do You See What I See places, Sloan (played by Caleigh Le Grand) at her uptight sister, Jessica’s (Jorja Cadence) for a house party to celebrate the holidays. Shortly into the festivities, a masked invader (Elliot-Dawson Clark) arrives to crash the party but all is not quite as it seems on this fateful night. The film also stars Adam Buller, Emmanuel Alexander and Aaron Malcolm. McConnell directed an independent apocalypse film I saw a few years back called, “The Collapsed” and he’s also had a number of short films released over the last decade. As for Whitney, this is her first time behind the camera. Do You See What I See was shot in Canada for an estimated $10,000.
I swear I say it every time I review one of these, even more so because the holidays are quickly approaching but damn I love a good Christmas themed slasher. Do You See What I See has an impressive production value, emphasized by its high quality cinematography. The shot choices are diverse and the framing wonderful, combined with the fact that everything is so tightly edited too. The sequence that stood out most, involves a smooth tracking shot, as Sloan makes her way through her sister’s backyard to greet her brother-in-law, Chris (played by Adam Buller). The audio levels are pretty clear and everything is nicely lit, in particular scenes that employ green and red lights in the basement. With this taking place in a Christmas setting, the music was always going to be key. I’m pleased to see Justin and Serena go with classic holiday music (something other film makers often don’t do). The score starts heavy on bass and festive bells but also exercises moody synth, in order to add that touch of “slasher” about the proceedings. There’s even a rocked up version of “Jingle Bells” in here, which I dug as well. The performances are all reasonably natural and I particularly like the casting of Le Grand and Cadence as sisters. The two of them have similar builds and facial features, plus their chemistry and dialogue were both believable. Buller is solid in his brief role, as is Alexander. The ball takes a while to get rolling but the snippets of conversation throughout are entertaining enough and when the action comes, we get some decent practical blood effects.
Honestly, there’s not really much to single out here other than wanting to have seen more in the way of blood and gore (which is common for me with horror films). A handful of shots at the beginning seemed ever so slightly out of focus, perhaps they required a marginally different lens but that’s me being nit picky.
McConnell and Whitney’s, Do You See What I See, takes the Christmas themed, slasher flick and turns it on its head with an unprecedented bearing left. The cinematography and framing are both great and the audio levels and lighting are bright. My favourite aspect of the film was the music choices and compositions of Sean Motley. You’d be surprised the amount of films set in this environment that skimp on the holiday themed music. The casting works well and the performances hit their mark. Topping it all off, the short diverts in an interesting direction that I definitely didn’t see coming. My only complaint is that the action wasn’t as gruesome as I’d hoped for, regardless, Do You See What I See is the best holiday short I think I’ve seen and it’s sure to get you in the mood for Christmas. Do yourself a favor and do a double feature night, this and fellow Canadian, Mike McMurran’s “Secret Santa” are your best bet for entertainment come December 25th! *see review* https://adamthemoviegod.com/secret-santa-review/.
My rating for “Do You See What I See” is 9/10