Pareidolia - FrightFest World Premiere
Director: Aaron Truss
Starring: Diane Franklin, Graham Cole, Carolyn Pickles, Joe Acres
Written by: Aiden Truss
Produced by: Stuart Morriss
Cinematography by: James Dean
Original Score by: Infra Violet
A university lecturer studying the subject of pareidolia, becomes convinced she is being stalked by an entity hiding within her house.
No I didn't know what pareidolia was either until I googled it in preparation for watching this short film. It's described as the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. Think of it as sort of like the Rorschach test but in real everyday objects instead of inkblots. It was once considered exclusively a symptom of psychosis but is now fairly common and recognized as part of the normal human experience.
Director Aaron Truss has enlisted 80s legend Diane Franklin (Amityville II: The Possession, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure) and uses this phenomenon to create a powerful and intriguing horror short with some really creepy imagery.
Franklin stars as Sinead Chambers, a teacher fixated with pareidolia who confides in her close friend (Carolyn Pickles) about haunting experiences that has recently taken over her life. Sinead seemingly lives alone but as her fixation consumes her she finds it increasingly difficult to look at things without seeing faces in them and it's beginning to really affect her.
Parallel to this story is one featuring an elderly priest (Graham Cole) who has been called to a hospital to inspect a dead body, which we discover from his reaction is not your normal corpse. It's something he has seen before and it absolutely terrifies him.
There's not really much of a story going on here and it feels like just 12 minutes that's been plucked from the middle of a feature film rather than a solid short. Definitely could work well as a proof of concept for a longer project though. The cast are all fine with Franklin standing out obviously and the young man in scrubs (Joe Acres) supplying some unexpected comedic respite. And there's a lovely little easter egg for fans of 'John Carpenter's Halloween' and an even more obscure nod to 'Friday the 13th', which put a huge smile on my face.
Although it's a fantastic idea, it needs to be fully fleshed out with a larger cast of developed characters to be truly effective. Truss and his team are clearly huge fans of 80s horror (who isn't right?). The special effects are eerily disturbing and the end is super creepy. I wanted to see more of that scary shit!
- Gavin Logan
'Pareidolia' received it World Premiere at FrightFest '23 on August 28th