Red Balloon – 12 Minutes of Must-See Horror!

OK, it’s actually 13 minutes long, but a minute of that is end credits (not that the cast and crow don’t count), plus I’m one of those irritating people who avoids the number 13 if at all possible.

Remember the short French film The Red Balloon? Released in 1957, cute little boy follows a red balloon to see where it leads him, written and directed by. Albert Lamorisse. I recall seeing it on a local PBS station from time to time in grade school.  A couple of times it was played for us in junior high (always in a Liberal Art-oriented class). Maybe you remember seeing it on YouTube, if you were born in the 80s or 90s;  it was about a blonde kid found a red balloon that brightened up his life. The 1957 movie suitable for all ages was beautifully shot with an upbeat finale. Official IMDB synopsis: a red balloon with a life of its own* follows a little boy around the streets of Paris.

Shockingly, the piece is NOT about that wholesome, upbeat movie above. Well, I guess they both created a great work of film-making with what they had excellent production values with the money they had, a small cast, beautifully shot, not an abundance of dialogue, but I think similarities end there*. I think  there’s only one red balloon in a brief shot, but I was too busy scraping myself from the ceiling to say with 100% certainty.Nelieve me, you’ll the moment when you see it. The tagline (if that applies to a short film, but hey, it’s on the poster art and I think it’s cool) gives you just the right amount of information, no more. LET ME TELL YOU A STORY YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE. IT’S ABOUT A COUPLE WHO HIRE A BABYSITTER FOR THE EVENING…

This  thirteen-minute horror film is an absolute blast. No gore, but scary enough so that every other comment on You Tube (where I first discovered it) makes some kind of comment referencing their wish for a box of Depends adult diapers. This movie is scary as hell, carefully crafted and shot,.and deserves recognition. I was lucky enough to discover this hidden gem of a short on you Tube a week or so ago. It’s tightly edited, the acting is above-average,  flawlessly directed, and you can bet your sweet ass it delivers on the scares well before the time it roars to a finish. Writers/directors Damien Mace and Alexis Wajsbrot make their debut, and I can’t wait to see what they’re cooking up now. Like many of the best horror stories,  it takes a simple concept and focuses on making that concept simply terrifying. I recommend that you watch the movie first (with the sound up and the lights down, especially if you’re feeling cocky in a yeah, right, whatever, I guess I’ll watch this candy-ass short movie way). So find thirteen minutes and give The Red Balloon a well-deserved watch. I highly recommend it …but not if you happen to be baby-sitting in an unfamiliar house at the time, or are sensing you may be on the verge of a panic attack. Here it is! Come on, you can find 13 12 minutes free to check it out…

OK,  now that you’ve seen it (do yourself a favor and don’t read further until you do – go in clean, you’ll thank me later) I dug up a little more info on the film-makers, and have some for you.

The official site says it was shot with Red Cam (I have no idea what this is, other than the fact it’s something you can use to shoot footage). It was also an official selection of over 20 international film festivals-not rinky-dink ones either.The movie was nominated to numerous festivals (including Festival international de Clermont-Ferrand, Palm Springs International ShortFest , Festival International Du Film Fantastique de Gerardmer , Festival De Cannes Short Film Corner, and more.  The short’s won the Directorial Discovery Award at Rhodes Island film Festival and 12 selections in others. Here’s a little more about awards/selections on this page of the official site. Check it out!

It draws a little on an urban legend (one that not everyone has heard),  yet puts an original spin on it that I didn’t see coming.  I didn’t quite catch a minor plot element the first time, but it wasn’t due to any flaw with the movie, more to the fact I had the sound turned down as low as possible and since it was after dark, lights off, decided not to watch it on full-screen. Oh, and that I was a little freaked out. The second watch filled in any blanks for me, and the third watch I decided to just quit while I was ahead if I wanted to get to sleep at a decent hour, and wait until daytime to revisit the film (which I did). If you’re interested in any of the FX, here’s something from You Tube where the writers/directors discussing the. Their accents are strong enough that I wish there were closed-caption, but it’s still fun (and you can see the duo is having fun, too, better yet).

*Goddamn, I’d sure hate to see the results if someone in an Elementary school AV department got their wires crossed and showed THIS Red Balloon by mistake to an elementary-school classroom of hyperactive kids  as one of those post-reccess/lunch “quiet time” activities. You may remember those –and I recall this from kindergarten myself–where the point is to get the kids to simmer down, relax, and calm the hell down after 30+ minutes of charging around the playground. If say, the teacher went out for a smoke and put this on the projection screen, I’m fairly sure someone present would end up in therapy, and someone would definitely have to make an apology to parents. This movie doesn’t have a calming effect on MY mood, and doubt it will with other adults, let alone jumpy kids, unless they are very, very mellow.

** Describing anything without a brain as ‘taking on a life of its own’ sounds sort of ominous, even if the object in question is a balloon.

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