I don’t review horror shorts very often, but after watching Tony Morales’ “Abracitos”, I had no choice but to write a review for his Spanish short film that made its world premiere at Fantasia Festival’s online edition.
A phone call with disturbing news in the middle of the night precedes a moment where two sisters are huddled together inside the younger sibling’s home-made tent, in the middle of her room. Something is stalking them outside the tent. Something otherworldly. Something truly sinister.
To say any more would ruin “Abracitos” (which, after discussing with its writer/director means “little hugs”). The two sisters (real life sisters, Beatriz and Carmen Salas) definitely demonstrate genuine fear. Not apprehensiveness or anxiety; pure, unfiltered fear. You can practically feel them trembling through the screen. Beatriz’s terror and distress is as palpable as can be while Carmen’s shocked emotions will creep you out to the point where you’re not even sure if she’s smiling or crying.
Despite being under 11 minutes long, the short film succeeded in raising the hair on the back of my neck; something most feature films can’t even do. The atmosphere, camera shots, unnerving violin soundtrack and scare techniques demonstrated by Morales immediately made me think of James Wan’s style, which is a great thing to be compared to one of this generation’s horror masters. The dreadful anticipation of fear as the youngest sister describes what she sees, followed by the visual terror briefly depicted afterwards, will surely keep the film in your mind long after it ends. The last time I was this creeped out from watching a horror short was from 2013’s 3-minute “Lights Out”, from David Sandberg, which then gained momentum and allowed him to direct his own feature film of the same title in 2016 (fingers crossed for Tony Morales!). Make sure you watch “Abracitos” in its entirety; even past the credits!
As a horror short, Tony Morales’ impressive accomplishment merits an outstanding score of 9/10. If you are Canadian, you can catch “Abracitos” now on Fantasia Festival’s official website for this year’s exceptional online edition, or keep an eye out for it in the future!
Article written by SIMON ROTHER