LION **** UK 2017 Dir: Davide Melini. 12 mins
A Spanish-shot British horror short from Italian filmmaker Davide Melini, this unfolds against an all-too familiar backdrop of 24/7 TV and pop culture. Images of Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, Donald Trump, terrorist alerts and sports flash before our eyes – and those of a slobbish, chain-smoking, beer-swilling lout (Michael Segal) who devotes his evenings to vegging out in front of a flat screen. The impact on his downtrodden wife (Tania Mercader) and his long-suffering, much-abused young son (constantly clutching a stuffed lion for comfort) is obvious. Young Pedro Sanchez impresses as the young, vengeful protagonist of this well-intentioned film – which plays oddly like a companion piece to the memorable “Tiger, Tiger” segment of British anthology TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS. The heartfelt shout-out to UNICEF at the very end makes this feel like a particularly horror-centric extended charity ad, though it’s well done, makes eerie use of external shots of the snowbound rural setting and cleverly deploys both visual FX and editing to enhance the empathetic story of one imaginative child’s bid to be free.
Review by Steven West