Horror in Short: Vision (2010)
By Keri O’Shea
A young woman (Axelle Carolyn) goes to collect her post one day and discovers that she’s been sent a mysterious DVD entitled ‘Watch Me’. Curiosity, of course, gets the better of her. She places the disc in her player, and – that’s her first, significant mistake. What she sees on the disc doesn’t just repel her, it throws a lot of barriers between viewer and viewed into disturbing disarray.
(Spoilers to follow, so watch the film before you read any further…)
In less than ten minutes and with no dialogue at all, director Jamie Hooper weaves an interesting and atmospheric story here – and that’s despite utilising a trope I’m not altogether fond of. Here’s my mea culpa then, before we go any further: for those of you who regularly read my witterings here at the site, you’ll know of my antipathy towards the ‘person tied to chair’ trope. And, true enough, it’s a trope contained in this short film. The reason I’m not foaming at the mouth about now is because here, this plot device isn’t included as a justification for a ten-minute murder set piece; yes, it’s supposed to be unpleasant, but throughout, the film’s focus remains on Axelle’s character and her responses to what is appearing on her screen. Furthermore, although we are tantalised with the knowledge of what is happening, we actually see very little of it. Vision is about the reaction, far more than it’s about the action.
But there’s more to it that that, even: the film doubly distances itself from common-or-garden endurance horror by working on breaking down the barrier between audience and performance. I really liked the process where the character referred to as The Welder in the credits literally breaks down ‘the fourth wall’ – Axelle’s character’s TV screen here – with a hammer. That’s how a horror film does it: even Sadako never thought of that one. This sequence also forms part of the way Vision experiments with supernatural elements, which helps to enrich the sequence of events we see unfold, and pushes the idea of the omnipotent bad guy to an unsettling zenith.
Vision asks more questions than it answers. Mainly, you may find yourself wondering why Axelle’s character doesn’t just run away – why is she compelled to keep watching these awful events? Indeed, why would any of us watch something we found so appalling? There’s something of that in modern horror fandom, though: the best-known cult horrors of recent years have often been the most visually repellent, and Vision extrapolates from that tendency something which carries with it a decent dose of creep factor.
For more information about Jamie Hooper’s work: http://www.jamhoop.com