Short Film Review: My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late

  • Reviews

Poster from My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late.Being able to capture true horror and despair in a sub five-minute short is a challenge that few filmmakers can rise to. Establishing tone and terror in such a tight space of time is itself an artform as admirable as doing so over a ninety-minute piece. My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late by the talented writer / director Joshua Warren manages to do so with a sly, sinister moan as an unseen terror exacts a heavy toll on a passing knight.

A live action interpretation of one of Denis Forkas Kostromitin’s haunting paintings (Fever Dream of a Knight Being Devoured by his Own Armour), the short is a simple tale of purest medieval horror. A knight (Alexander Lincoln) weary from a nearby battle seeks refuge in a picturesque stone-gazebo while he reckons with the cost of his war. But a terrifying, unseen presence begins to squeeze and crush at his armour, wracking him with wild agonies untold as his flesh and bones are crunched and broken by his carnivorous clothing.

Alexander Lincoln has very little to go on here, but sells the horror and agony of the scene well. The look of confusion and horror as the reality of his nightmare begins to dawn on him is played remarkably well across his handsome features, leaving the audience wincing almost as much as he is. For a short with no dialogue, Lincoln conveys an admirable range before succumbing to his horrifying ordeal.

A knight in armour sitting against a concrete column looking scared and upset. Still from My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late.

There is a wonderfully ambiguous nature about the events unfolding in the short, and Warren wisely holds back anything resembling a plot allowing the mood of the piece to speak for itself. Cinematographer Korsshan Schlauer captures an eerie, sunlit beauty that stands in stark contrast to the dark deeds unfolding but makes the most of the time he is given to paint a beautiful arrangement on a canvass of agonies.

The practical effects of the armour buckling in on itself are neatly played amidst a restrained and haunting soundscape that isn’t afraid to let the audience wallow in the knight’s misery. As it crushes the life from his body, we are left to ponder the meaning of the piece; has the knight already perished in the battle and we are watching something claim his soul? Are we to read that his reliance on the very thing that would keep him alive has cursed him and become the very thing to take his life?

Again, the ambiguous nature of the story is one of its strengths, though likely to confound and frustrate some.

A knights helmet sat on the ground. Still from My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late.

Having spent some time looking at the disturbing image which seems to have inspired the piece, it is remarkable how much the share in feeling if not in content. The dark and nightmarish image portrayed in Kostromitin’s work is a stark contrast to the bright and airy feel that Warren has gone for, but somehow in all of its sunlit glory there is a darkness at the heart of the short that feels palpable and dangerous.

Currently doing the rounds on the festival circuit, My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late is a terrific short which showcases a budding filmmaking talent in the making. Seek it out if you get the chance, but remember to wear something loose…

Keep an eye on Joshua’s Instagram for news of where you can catch My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late next. 

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