Shorts have long been a budding filmmaker’s first entry point into the big, bad world of feature entertainment. Never more so than in horror, from Mama to Rare Exports and even Saw. More often than not, one has to sit through about a hundred of the blasted things just to find one viable option. However, Night Of The Witch, which could comfortably be extended to feature length right now.
In fact, I kind of wish it already had been.
Written, directed, conceived (and everything in between) by our own Zena S. Dixon, the flick’s ludicrously simple synopsis is thus: A soldier fights something he was never trained for. Shot in just three days and clocking in at just over five minutes in length, Night Of The Witch keeps its creepy cards close to its chest. And is all the more powerful for it.
In casting ex-soldier (and Dixon’s own brother-in-law) Patrick Dixon, who was stationed for four years in Afghanistan, the writer-director immediately establishes her Big Bad as a real force with which to be reckoned. Dixon’s own impressive physical stature makes him a formidable protagonist, the kind of character we don’t usually see frightened by supernatural forces.
In fact, Dixon’s unnamed lead is usually the mouthy type, leading the charge, looking to kill whatever is facing the central group (and often paying the price for it). Night Of The Witch sees him cower in terror, faced with something he can’t quite understand (as Dixon herself describes it, “a man who thought he was prepared” but has no idea what he’s really up against).
The best shorts give us just enough of a taste, without overstaying their welcome. Night Of The Witch straddles this line perfectly, leaving its ending ambiguous but establishing its conceit with enough tension and eerie, unexplained weirdness (not to mention a genuinely chilling, well-conceived villain) to leave us wanting more.
Check out Night Of The Witch for yourself right here.