Short Film Review: 3 SECONDS

*Editor’s noteJay Kay, head honcho over at did us a solid and took a look at 3 SECONDS, a short film directed by Alex J. Mann and focused on the ever so lovely Snapchat. As always, thanks Jay!-Jerry


The use of technology with smart phones, mobile devices, webcams and snapchat has been come a very popular sub-genre of horror filmmaking over the last decade. Both very creative as well as very inventive, feature films like “The Den” and “Unfriended” along with short horror films like “Zombie”, “5 or Die” and “Selfie” have taken tools of communication to an entertaining, tense and dark areas. Who’s watching? Where are they? Why are they? The idea of a technological voyeur is just as scary today as it was decades before face to face. Engrained within this concept both in a playful and disturbing way, the short film “3 Seconds” creates a concise, smart and on target piece of horror short film!

The haunted house story done in less than a 100 characters and in a haunting emoji style, is directed, written and produced by veteran short filmmaker Alex J. Mann. “3 Seconds” tells a ghost story that makes it unclear if the ghost is a flirt or a fiend. Set during the wee hours of the night in a pretty, young woman (Allison Raskin) bedroom she is awaken by her smart phone. Thinking it might be a friend sending a message, she opens up a photo of her sleeping with a message.

Why we are a world focused on the selfies and presentation normally, who or whatever has taken this photo confuses and startles her. Sending a text to her friend, she discovers that someone may be in her room. Being both playful and harassing, we discover threw well planned camera angles, movements and focus that an entity is watching and communicating with her. Going back to bed, she is woken up with each vibration on her night stand. Each time the phone vibrates, Mann exploits the vulnerability we are all feeling and connect with. This along with the darkness that sits around her creates a simple yet effective haunted house feel.

As the night goes on, the young woman jumps out of bed inspecting her room for any visitors. With each rapidly growing beat in the score, Mann flashes a ghost emoji disrupting your focus on the story and effectively keeping you on edge. Plotting jump sequences, cinematographer Carlos Medina switches between several different perspectives which create a level of stress and growing tension that is elevating to frightening. As the tension, paranoia and lack of sleep mount for the young woman, the entity’s advances grow to a more personal level including drawing blonde hair on her head and recording a video of her why she sleeps. Each of the messages again are narrated by a simple question or comment that really throw you since her phone never leaves her nightstand.

As the final seconds tick away, the entities finally strikes with an assault that is orchestrated with a combination of hectic camera movements, culminating score, an effective performance and a digital twist that sends chills down your spine. Overall, “3 Seconds” shows clever planning and execution in each stage of the short. Using the dark to his advantage, he is smart to keep only the young woman illuminated by the phones light never really allowing the viewer to venture out of the small area of light. Hats off also to the films editor Nelson Ramm who did a stellar job cutting “3 Seconds”. Ramm’s editing made the short more fluid and really helping to sell the entity throughout. This being Mann’s eighth short film, I would like to see how he will blend FX, story, score and technique together in a full length horror project soon.

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