Friday, January 26, 2018

Simplicity and ambiguity: The horror short as flash fiction

Back when I was but a wee adolescent aspiring to become a fiction writer, in the summer of 1996, I attended Interlochen Arts Camp for a month of intensive writing instruction. Peter Markus, our quirky and charismatic teacher, introduced us to "flash fiction" -- very, very short stories. Some of these micro-tales were a couple pages long; some consisted of just a few paragraphs. Discovering this precise, economical subgenre inspired us to be wildly imaginative without setting ourselves the daunting goal of cranking out some arbitrary number of words or pages in order to feel like we'd written a "real" story.

I thought of flash fiction when I watched "Curve," a 10-minute horror/suspense short with a premise so simple, some young filmmakers are almost certainly kicking themselves for not coming up with it. (This was the effect flash fiction often had on us young writers.) I don't want to expound at length about a film so simple and effective, but I should also note that it features the kind of ending that drives some cinephiles absolutely bonkers. There's no clear resolution: Not only do we not know what ultimately happened, we don't know how whatever happened happened. But what the filmmaker was going for, I think, was primarily a chilling mood of uncertainty, mystery, and, yes, dread. If that was writer-director-cinematographer Tim Egan's goal, then mission accomplished.

CURVE from Lodestone Films on Vimeo.

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