Short Film Review: Nervous Breakdown

Many cases of disappearances around the world go unresolved every day. Clues often point to crime, yet answers remain indefinite when there is no body found. People are curious creatures, and interest surround these cases even over years, as evident in the proliferation of armchair detectives and their public speculations especially online.

Nervous Breakdown finds inspiration in these disappearing acts, and the more sinister speculations behind them. Set in 1983, the story’s missing person is a young woman June, whose only trace left behind was her abandoned car. Five years later, the investigators are nowhere near an explanation for her mysterious vanishing. But her twin sister Jane (Melissa Blackwell) is resolute that something supernatural had been at work that night.

Having been impressed by short film Tethered (review here), I very much looked forward to what the filmmakers involved had lined up next. I could not be more grateful to director Dan Robinette for the opportunity to view the private screener in full.

The ten-minute venture did not disappoint. Dan Robinette continues to showcase his capability at the build-up of atmospheric suspense, which shines especially in the third act. A synth-pop score added to the ambience of the effective mood piece, joining the recent wave of nostalgic tributes to the golden era of horror cinema – the 80s.

On the writing end, Cooper Thorton makes a decent debut in conjuring monstrous scares. It is unfortunate that the run-time puts his creature mythology at a disadvantage. The breakneck pacing could only offer the plot in excessive exposition, hence hindering both character development and the effective introduction of a potential franchise in the making.

The result feels like a cold open that ended before it could properly begin. But that is not to dismiss the sterling work on the conclusion. In its Hellraiser-esque final minutes, the revelation of the occult perpetrators would certainly please genre fans, teasing that Nervous Breakdown may make for a way better horror feature than short.

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