Short Film Review: I Feel Lonely

  • Reviews

The line between uncanny, supernatural events and the inescapable hauntings to be found within our own heads is often razor thin. Alexandar Tomov Junior’s latest short, I Feel Lonely, is an experiment in blurring the lines between those two conflicting states until the muggy, blurry division becomes irrelevant.

A woman puts her ear to the drain in a sink. Still from I Feel Lonely.

We follow a nameless protagonist (Diana Kostova) as she unwinds in her modern, pristine apartment after a long day at the office. Her beautiful home, adorned with all the comforts of modernity, feels painfully empty as she wonders the rooms in a state of absent-minded repetition. When she begins to hear a growling, raspy voice coming from the bathroom drain telling her “I feel lonely”, she begins to slowly descend into a state of fear and depression that threatens to swallow up her sanity.

Thankfully there are no killer clowns lurking in the shadows of I Feel Lonely, though the unseen force at work here is just as devastating and lurks silently in reality as well as fiction.

The film looks absolutely terrific; Tomov Junior uses the space in the apartment to great effect, with the camera forever lingering on his central character as she languidly floats around her home. There is a sense that the director is shooting around something awful, the camera constantly hinting at a darkness lurking elusively out of frame.

A woman's face half in shadow. She looks scared of something. Still from I Feel Lonely.

Interspersed with shots of the modern apartment are images of grime and dirt below the surface, of a darkness below that is reaching out to grab hold of Diana Kostova’s lead character, an apt metaphor for her fragile mental state. As with so many who suffer from depression, often everything can appear normal on the surface, but dig a little deeper and there is a dark and dangerous interior pulling everything it can down.

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Kostova gives a good performance in what is mostly a one woman show. A restrained terror threatening to boil over behind her eyes, she is a woman lost within herself who finds no rest when night falls and the voice returns with a horrifying gusto. Night becomes day in the blink of an eye and Kostova cuts a haunted, wearied figure by the film’s end.

I Feel Lonely dances around its subject matter whilst scattering enough clues around for the audience to decide for themselves what they are watching. A late appearance by another character (Kristian Krastev as the creepiest janitor since Fred Kruger pulled on a fedora) seems to add some weight to the supernatural forces bubbling below the surface, but the film still reads as an interesting depiction of someone’s descent into depression and despair.

A view from inside a sink drain looking up. Still from I Feel Lonely.

The score is terrific. A pulsing beat that seems to exist in the central character’s head like an insistent ghost, the music really adds to the thrumming, palpable dread that builds across the piece. As the finale approaches, the intrusive voice from the drain returns with a cacophonous roar, a deafening soundscape realised with a real technical finesse that feels almost unbearable.

At thirty minutes in length, I Feel Lonely does feel like a film that would have had more impact if it were shorter. There is a great central idea here; the director uses the language of horror cinema to tell a harrowing story firmly anchored in reality, but at times the focus of the film wanders a little as some of the artful shots and empty frames are left to linger a little too long.

A woman shines a flashlight into a dark room. Still from I Feel Lonely.

The film’s final act features a tense plunge into pure horror. Kostova descends into the dark beneath her apartment to find the owner of the voice, but instead finds only an endless emptiness which leads to an ending that has a macabre inevitability about it. The voice from the drain utters a final line to chill the soul, reinforcing the feeling that this could have ended only one way.

A strong horror short with a valuable message, I Feel Lonely is an interesting experiment in metaphor and meaning, delivering a tale that lingers in the dark like a voice from beyond.

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