• Country: United States
  • Initial release: October 17, 2023 (United States)
  • Film Director: Caleb J. Phillips
  • Running Time: 10 Minutes
  • IMDB Grade: 7.4

In the realm of horror films, there are few directors who can capture the essence of quiet horror quite like Caleb J. Phillips. His ability to transform simple concepts into bone-chilling tales is truly remarkable. Following the success of his deeply unsettling short film, “Other Side Of The Box,” Phillips returns with another haunting creation, “Play Me.” Produced by Karen Twins Productions, this ten-minute thrill ride has been making waves on the festival circuit, leaving audiences captivated and craving for more.

The Plot Unfolds

“Play Me” is a soul sister to Phillips’ previous work, “Other Side Of The Box.” It shares the same eerie atmosphere and leaves numerous unanswered questions lingering in the viewer’s mind. The story revolves around a young woman who wakes up in the middle of nowhere, inside a car, surrounded by darkness. With no recollection of how she got there or why she’s there, she discovers a small tape recorder with a note instructing her to “Play Me.” The enigmatic message only adds to her confusion, while the presence of a mysterious figure in the backseat sends a chilling message – she’s in trouble.

The Power of Fear

Phillips has a deep understanding of what truly scares us. His storytelling prowess lies not in cheap tricks or fancy effects, but in the realm of the unknowable, the unthinkable, and the unexplainable. “Play Me” is devoid of jump scares and excessive gore, yet it manages to evoke a sense of discomfort and unease that lingers long after the film ends.

The Cinematography and Performances

The cinematography by Laura Jansen is intimate and tight, capturing only what is necessary to keep the audience immersed in the young woman’s harrowing experience. The camera work puts us directly in her shoes, allowing us to feel her panic and vulnerability. Lindsey Garret delivers a compelling performance as the woman, choosing to react with purpose rather than resorting to histrionics. Her believable actions make “Play Me” all the more captivating, leaving us questioning whether she’s losing her mind or if something truly terrible has invaded our world.

A Shift in Tone

As the film progresses, there’s a noticeable shift in tone that further deepens the mystery. The Twilight Zone-esque ending leaves viewers wondering what comes next, amplifying the bleakness of the short. Rather than providing definite answers, Phillips opts to offer just enough to keep us engaged while leaving room for interpretation. The possibilities become endless, and the young woman’s survival hangs in the balance. Is she our only salvation, or is she our greatest enemy? The uncertainty lingers, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.

Universal Fears Explored

While “Play Me” may not reach the same level of creepiness as “Other Side Of The Box,” it taps into the universal fears we all share. The loss of identity, the inability to trust even ourselves, and the fear of situations beyond our control are all intrinsic to the human experience. Phillips masterfully crafts a concept that resonates with viewers, haunting them long after the credits roll. His unique brand of world-building and fear creation is a breath of fresh air in the horror genre, and it’s clear that he’s a talent to watch.

The Road Ahead

“Play Me” has been selected as an official entry for Screamfest 2023, solidifying its place among the most promising horror shorts of the year. The success of this short film only further highlights the need for Caleb J. Phillips to helm a feature-length project. His ability to create immersive worlds and evoke genuine fear is unparalleled, and it’s time for him to take the reins and deliver a full-length horror experience that will leave audiences on the edge of their seats.

1 Film Review

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  • “Play Me” is a gripping and atmospheric horror short that showcases Caleb J. Phillips’ storytelling prowess. With its enigmatic plot, strong performances, and unsettling atmosphere, the film leaves a lasting impression on viewers. While it may not reach the same level of creepiness as “Other Side Of The Box,” it delves into universal fears and showcases Phillips’ unique ability to create suspense with minimalistic elements. As “Play Me” continues to make waves on the festival circuit, it’s clear that Caleb J. Phillips is a rising star in the world of horror cinema.