Death and the grieving process is just as important to living life, as the actual act of living life. How we deal with grief mentally - far surpasses most physical remnants - because grief can shape our very thoughts and turn good to bad seemingly in an instant. But what happens when external forces are also at work? Trying to shape our thoughts during the toughest of times? This concept is the basis for more ghost stories than a person could possibly count, and an excellent springboard for a psychological horror film. "The Erl King" instantly goes for the throat - and crams about as much as it possibly can into a ten-minute venture - and it mostly excels.
In the film, Alfie has very recently lost his father in a crash, so recent in fact, that his face is still all bandaged up. Only... if you ask him, his father is still present and accounted for. The two play together, converse, and Alfie's departed dad even gifts him from time to time. All this to the dismay of Alfie's mother, who eventually doesn't hold back and really lays into the poor boy - describing Alfie's father as one who was really not a good father at all. Still, even in death, Alfie's mother always seems to come a distant second to her deceased husband. Competing with a living asshole is one thing, competing with a dead one is another story altogether. As this short film progresses, and Alfie's mother desperately tries to connect with her son, we quickly learn that she herself is not the perfect picture of mental health. What comes next? You'll simply have to watch the film to find out.
"The Erl King" is a haunting short film. Not so much because of the story, but the very presentation itself. Callum Windsor has packaged a short film that oozes atmosphere. The creepy, you know something is going to happen kind. From the choice of color straight through to the slightly awkward feeling edit itself - this film is meant to put you on edge. And it does. The story itself may not be completely fresh and unique, but that doesn't stop it from emotionally battering you as it crawls to its twisted conclusion. For this film, it's not so much about being actually scary, more about creating a sense of dread. Being completely honest, I was expecting a little more from the ending - perhaps a little more of a fight from Alfie himself, but my slight letdown could be from the excellent build-up. Where this short film does shine, is in the performances from Lewis Hyman and Louise Elliker. The parts are handled believably - and the grit of loss, anger, and grief is captured quite well. A real credit to the cast themselves, and to Windsor for casting them.
When it's all said and done, "The Erl King" is a well written, well-acted short horror film. Although supernatural in nature, the real horror for me was contained within the living characters themselves. Again, this may not be the perfect short film, but one hundred percent worthy of my ten minutes. Probably yours as well. Three and a half stars.