Spoiler-Free Short-Film Reviews: “The Looming” and “Dream Creep” (Sundance Film Festival)

January 23, 2024

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at josephperry@gmail.com. He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.


So often in horror films the elderly are portrayed as scary or creepy subjects, something to fear, run from, or even kill. Occasionally, they are treated with more reverence and respect than usual in fright-fare cinema, such as in director Natalie Erika James’s Relic (2020). Writer/director Masha Ko’s new short The Looming is another such film that examines the plight of the aged and lonely, delivering heartbreak along with horror. Seventy-year-old Chester (Joseph Lopez in an absolutely amazing performance) begins to hear terrifying noises in his home, where he lives alone, and his fears are dismissed both at his job and by his adult daughter, who refuses to come to his home to discuss the matter. Something is indeed, as the title says, looming around Chester, though. Ko has crafted a superb-looking, emotionally charged work that draws attention to the importance of the fears of the elderly, and to how they deserve our attention. I give The Looming my highest recommendation.


Writer/director Carlos A.F. Lopez’s short Dream Creep is a stunner. David (Ian Edlund) is sleeping next to his partner Suzy (Sidney Jayne Hunt) when he awakens, thinking that he hears her crying for help — from within her ear hole. Many of us have had dreams from which we wake up and wonder if it is or was reality and it takes some time to get our bearings. David doesn’t have that time, Suzy’s voice insists as Suzy’s body lies still, seemingly deep asleep, because something is after her. To wake her up is to kill her, her voice insists, but her instructions for helping her sound equally dangerous to David. The predicament he finds himself in is a corker, and Lopez does a masterful job of escalating tension and infusing it with some dark humor. To avoid going into spoiler territory, suffice it to say that the proceedings get absolutely bonkers. Boasting fine production values, pitch-perfect story and characterization, and terrific performances, Dream Creep is an excellent stand-alone short but a work that also cries out to be expanded to a feature-length film.

The Looming and Dream Creep screen as part of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, which runs in Salt Lake City and Park City Utah, from January 18–28 with a virtual option from January 25–28. For more information, visit https://festival.sundance.org/.


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