"When Sandy comes to from a strange dream, she isn't aware of the terrifying nightmare that awaits her now she is awake."
When I got word from writer/director Liam Banks that he had a new short on the way for Halloween I instantly got excited! If you have read my other reviews of Liam's short films you'll know I'm a fan of his work.
"Sandman" is right out of my nightmares, almost literally as when I was a small kid I had a nightmare similar to the plot of this film. The only difference being it was never my own house I was in when the creature was outside.
The opening of "Sandman" sets up the scene nicely, with Sandy, (Esmee Matthews) waking from a deep sleep, hearing noises coming from out in the street below her window. What she finds when she looks is a strange creature loitering in the darkness across the road opposite her house. *Cue chills*
The shots of Sandy as she is looking about her room and through the curtains are masterful and without a doubt ramp up the tension in a short space of time. All I can say about this is that Liam and his Director of Photography, Jonathan Butler, know exactly what they are doing. Although Esmee Matthews has a lot to do with the success of these shots.
Bringing me to the character of Sandy. Its a testament to the talent possessed by Esmee Matthews that she could pull this off. Sandy has very little dialogue in the film yet Esmee builds the tension and expresses the emotions that must be running through Sandy by her movement and facial expression alone. I can see a big future for this girl!
When we glimpse the Sandman it reminded me of two things. 1. The above mentioned nightmare from my childhood, and 2. Those alcohol commercials from the 90's with the "Judderman" puppet (the very thing that probably gave me the nightmares in the first place!).
My favourite part of the film is the scene on the stairs when Sandy leaves her room to check the rest of the upstairs floor and sees the Sandman on the stairs below. *Cue those chills again*. The Sandman has no dialogue at all yet Matthew Barker makes it absolutely terrifying, again by sheer movement and presence in each shot he is part of.
The score, by Edward Harvey is simple but effective in creating and prolonging Sandy's apprehension and fear. It just shows how a piece doesn't need to be overly complicated to work, and in saying that I'm by no means undervaluing the hard work Edward surely put into this.
The special effects in "Sandman" looked professional and were used well in conjunction with the story, so I have no complaints there.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film and I must admit, the jump scares got me every time I watched, showing that when used correctly and not relied upon they can bring so much to a film.
If I were to make a Horror film, it would look like this.