“I’d be invisible,” whispers Jacob (Chanel Williams), when asked by young Tommy (Kal-el Tuck) what superpowers he would like to have. In a sense Jacob is the classic invisible friend – a confidante and playmate to a lonely boy in an otherwise empty bedroom. Yet Tommy is blind, so that only we can see what he cannot – that Jacob is also a demonic creature, lurking in the shadows, seeking contact and trying to lure in his little host. Certainly Rebecca (Rachel Lennard) remains entirely oblivious to what is happening in her beloved son’s room once the door is shut.
It is a cliché of both reality and cinema that young children are terrified of what might be hiding under the bed or in the dark invisible spaces of their room – but what makes debuting writer/director Jaye Adams’ Unseeing Evil feel like such a neat inversion of this overused trope is that Tommy’s inability to see renders him particularly vulnerable – but also uncannily fearless in the face of a threat that is no more invisible to him than everything else.
Structured as a game between Tommy and Jacob that only one of them knows is cat and mouse, this short film is a creepy and increasingly tense play on different perceptions (the viewer’s and the non-viewing Tommy’s). Perhaps what you don’t see can hurt you – but here is hoping that Adams’ proposed feature film, for which this unnervingly efficient two-and-a-half-minute short was intended as a proof of concept, eventually sees the light of day.
© Anton Bitel