Abandoned by his mother, a blind boy Solomon lives alone in the forest, abiding by his mother’s three rules of survival. He gives back to the forest that provides for them. He seeks comfort in the song they share. Above all, he never lets go of the rope that he is tethered by.
Clocking in at just around ten minutes, Tethered turns in a well-made and suspenseful horror short, much on par with a good number of full-length features. A dark cloud of foreboding drifts in place from the very start, as his mother warns of danger over her chilling recording.
Proving himself an excellent storyteller, director Dan Robinette not only shows off his eye for horror aesthetics. He has a knack for crafting the right pace, gradual but effectively so. Adept build-up sustains an ominous atmosphere in the isolated woods, reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project.
There are visual echoes of recent classic The Witch as well, treading on the familiar tone of seclusion and inexorable danger. The eventuality of Solomon’s misadventure teases, every moment he sits in solitude or hums his song of solace. It does not take long before he wanders further from the safety of his home, taking us along to find out just what exactly awaits him.
While short films tend to rely on over-exposition, Tethered ensures the right amount of revelations in its minimalist script. Clues amplify tension for what lies beyond where the rope allows. Anxiety closes in, with little relief. Brilliantly portrayed by Jared Cook, the vulnerability to Solomon has us hoping for the best, and dreading the worst.
Special thanks to Dan Robinette and 4 Leagues Media for sharing this short film with me.