Most of us spend a good bit of our lives with screens. More so in recent times, which had only heightened our reliance on Zoom calls and messenger apps. It isn’t surprising that our computer and phone screens have become a popular film set, especially in horror movies like Unfriended.
Add Vincenzo Nappi’s Filtered to the slate of similar found footage movies, invading our safe online space. In this 5-minute short film, Jasmine (Jasmine Winter) gets on a video call with Marco (Marco Carreiro) after a bad day at work. Hoping for a good cheering up, she soon gets that – and unfortunately, more than what she wished for.
It is easy to anticipate what happens next, with the trailer’s glitching effect giving it away in seconds. What is tougher to figure out is how fun and silly filters could be made scary at all. Even with this unlikely subject matter, the film is surprisingly effective. Much of it feels real due to the natural interaction between its two leads.
As Marco cycles through his silly filters, the humour does not negate the mounting dread. The immersive on-screen experience plays on our fears of the supernatural caught on a camera, especially one that many of us use almost every day. A clever use of negative space allows our own imagination to do the rest of the job, building the tension necessary for the inevitable jump scare to work.
5 minutes may be too brief a time for a memorable plot to unfold or its characters to make an impression. But if a horror short is capable of making one jump at the Dog filter, it has definitely done something right.
Filtered premiered at the Cabane à Sang film festival in April 2021. Special thanks to the team for sharing the screener with me.