An ancient Christmas Eve tradition. The lighting of the fire, the ringing of the bell. Will (Joss Orr) isn’t sure why they do these things and, quite honestly, he thinks it’s a bit silly. His father, Morgan (Bram Fulk), assures him there is nothing to worry about and that this is the way of things. Convincing Morgan’s neighbor Chuck (Mark Owen) is bigger challenge. Chuck doesn’t believe in superstitious rituals but sometimes customs should not be broken.
Bells is a horror short directed by DJ Remark. Set during the Christmas holiday Bells captures the silent and desolate nature of winter. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining comes to mind when watching the camera pan over the bleak and snowy landscapes. The cinematography, solid acting, and a mysterious plot all combine to build a promising beginning. A sense of unease starts to rise in the viewer.
Unfortunately, the storytelling starts to unravel towards the conclusion. Unanswered questions are an important element in horror films, but too many can lead to frustration. Few of the plot elements get an explanation, which leads to a confusing ending. The characters seem to follow a set of rules. Interpretation of these rules are left mostly to the viewer. The ending isn’t without suspense, however, as a nice surprise awaits.
Clocking in at a brief 6 minutes, I do tip my hat to the filmmakers for setting up an intriguing introduction. The mystery is interesting and the scenery provides a strong winter horror backdrop. I just wish I would have seen a clearer finish. Bells is streaming on YouTube and I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys their horror ghostly and peculiar.
I give Bells 4 out of 6 reels.
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