Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Stockholm Syndrome Film and Co-Writer/Director, Sonny Laguna (Blood Runs Cold and Wither) for allowing me early access to an online screener of his 10-minute Horror/Mystery short titled “Mystery Box”. Mystery Box opens on an isolated island with Moa (played by Lisa Henni), a young woman whose enjoying a quiet bit of fishing, her only haul for the day being a mysterious metal box. Placing it in a nearby shed she thinks nothing more of it, but as nightfall approaches, there’s a knock at the door and Moa discovers that getting rid of the box might not be so easy.
I was introduced to Swedish-born Sonny Laguna years back, around the same time he released his feature film “Blood Runs Cold” (one of the first films I reviewed here at AdamTheMovieGod). It was a micro-budget homage to the slasher in the woods trope (only those particular woods were snow-covered Canadian ones) and the end result certainly surprised me *see review* https://adamthemoviegod.com/blood-runs-cold-review/. Sonny followed up with “Wither”, yet another tribute, this time to Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead”. I thoroughly enjoyed the practical effects on display and even some of the action sequences, but the film as a whole was rather lacking. From there, Laguna dropped off my radar for a few years, despite going on to make another couple of features during that time. Mystery Box sees him return to the world of short filmmaking. This might be the first time I’ve seen him utilizing more cinematic methods in spite of budget. The cinematography is made up of some glorious aerial shots of both the boat in the beginning and Moa’s cabin too. The edit transitions with a bunch of nice quick cuts, most of the framing is good, and there are even a couple of smooth tracking shots as well. The audio is clear and the foley work is the best it’s been in any of Sonny’s films thus far. The music can be likened to that of a Lovecraftian style film. Loud horns are eerie and atmospheric synth gives Mystery Box that desired otherworldly feel. This is a one-woman show and Henni does a fine job in the role. Stockholm Syndrome Films have always taken pride in their effects work, and once again, Mystery Box is no exception. This time, Sonny and Co. opt for dirty and greasy makeup and goop and a majority of it works.
My only real complaint is that the film lacks clarity in regard to the function of the box. The climax plays out in intriguing fashion but you don’t necessarily get the reveal you might be expecting. Also, Lisa has somewhat of an understated reaction to the contents of the box. I expected her to show a little more shock and awe.
Mystery Box is an entertaining and sharp short film from talented European filmmaker, Sonny Laguna. The film is clearly inspired by the world of H.P Lovecraft, with perhaps a little nod to something like Richard Kelly’s “The Box” in there. The cinematography looks impressive, the sound is clean, and the moody synth score further complements the intended tone. Henni is easy to watch and the practical effects are of a high standard. Issues are slim and mostly personal preference in nature. I think Moa’s reaction to what’s inside the box is a little weak and I think the film may have better benefited from some clearer details in relation to the box itself. Small gripes aside, Mystery Box is an impressive short film that genre fans are really going to enjoy. Keep an eye out for the teaser trailer soon!
My rating for “Mystery Box” is 8/10