Short Starts is a column devoted to kicking off the week with a short film, typically one tied to a new release.
One of the big movies out this Friday is the Guillermo del Toro-presented remake of “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.” It’s only co-written and produced by del Toro, however, so don’t be fooled that it’s really a film by the director of “Hellboy” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.” It’s actually a film by newbie filmmaker Troy Nixey, the director of “Latchkey’s Lament.” If you missed this short when it debuted at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, or when it made the rounds two years ago as evidence of Nixey’s qualification to helm such a major horror pic as his first feature, now’s as good a time as ever to check out the weird and wonderful work that now appears a consequent calling card of sorts.
I don’t entirely get what’s going on in the film, or why, but I don’t mind since it’s a dialogue-free 17 minutes of magical storytelling, somewhere between Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Pixar — or, maybe if Terry Gilliam made a film for Pixar, as he wishes to. Basically we’ve got a creepy, gnome-like mechanical monster who steals anthropomorphic latchkeys, which to him are either food or a drug, or both. But one of these animated keys means to take the ‘Keyfiend’ down after watching his ‘wife’ consumed. The result is a short perhaps a little too cutesy-cartoony for most adults yet too scary for kids. That’s how I’d describe the original “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” actually, so it makes sense Nixey got the gig.
Watch “Latchkey’s Lament” in two parts after the jump.
Prior to directing “Latchkey’s Lament,” Nixey was a comic book artist and creator who has collaborated on multiple projects with Mike Mignola, of “Hellboy” fame. That would connect him to del Toro already, in a way, but it would take del Toro’s viewing of this short to convince the veteran visionary to work with the novice. We’ll see if it pays off this weekend. And if, with an R-rating, the “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” redo is more grown-up-scary.