Sunday 30 July 2023


Directed by: Aaron Truss. Starring Diane Franklin, Graham Cole, Carolyn Pickles, Joe Acres. Short. Horror, UK 2023, 13.5mins.

A Q Cumber Films & Misty Moon production. Festival screenings ahead of official cast & crew premiere on 16th October 2023. 

Pareidolia: a situation in which someone sees a pattern or image of something that does not exist, for example a face in a cloud.

The literary ghost stories of M.R. James are littered with academic scholars foolishly poking around in matters they shouldn’t and often unleashing supernatural entities upon themselves. In PAREIDOLIA (how undeniably cool is that title by the way?) university lecturer Sinead Chambers, (Diane Franklin, Amityville II: The Possession), sets her students an assignment to go out and photograph examples of pareidolia. Unfortunately for Sinead, her own curiosity attracts a very real entity which appears intent on unleashing its own lesson – in fear and mortal dread – upon her.

There is a ton of material both included and implied in the modest runtime of this crisply paced, tightly edited, and strikingly lensed short sharp spooky shock fest. Director Aaron Truss delivers a punchy tale, scribed by Aaron's dad Aiden, and it’s obviously a labour of love to the horror genre. A frankly astonishing cast is assembled for a modest crowdfunded project headed up by 80’s icon Diane Franklin, who pulls out all the stops as her terrified lecturer plays hide and seek in the on-off dark with a flashlight in standout sequences reminiscent of The Conjuring and Lights Out. Ably supported by British TV stalwarts Graham Cole and Carolyn Pickles who bring assured quality to the tale, and a nice turn from Joe Acres as the archetypal wisecracking mortuary attendant, the technical acumen behind the lens is proficiently complimented by the onscreen talent.

Lovely nods to the classic franchises come courtesy of the radio announcer ‘DJ Micki Myers’ voiced by Sandy (“Michael’s around someplace…”) Johnson - Michael Myers’ sister and first victim in Carpenter’s seminal original Halloween - here referencing another Carpenter film, The Fog with her ‘Stevie Wayne’ like weather warning. And Friday the 13th also gets a sly cameo courtesy of a carefully framed bottle of Adrienne King’s ‘Crystal Lake Wine’!

It's an ambitious short, (when was the last time French sociologist Jean Baudrillard was referenced on screen?), with a number of potential threads that could easily dovetail off into a full-length feature, or even dare I say it, a franchise. For example, there’s a potential prequel exploring Father Cavanagh’s past and previous run-ins with the entity. But for now, unlike the dictionary definition of the film’s subject matter, there’s more than plenty to see in plain sight in PAREIDOLIA, a scary warning to the curious, and the lurking dread in its dark corners will likely cause you to keep your lights permanently on at night…        


Paul Worts