It's Halloween night and Dorothy is stuck house sitting for the wealthy Poe family. Besides keeping an eye on the house and handing out candy to trick 'r treaters, Dorothy is also responsible for watching over Mrs. Poe's comatose mother. Not a bad gig for Dorothy until a bloody ghost child comes knocking at the door. Now Dorothy finds herself trapped in a nightmare that she cannot awake from.
"An Evening With My Comatose Mother" has been tearing up the festival scene recently and after watching the trailer, I can see why. With promises of a young woman being trapped in a house with a creepy old woman on her death bed and an equally creepy clown doll, the potential was definitely there for a good short film. Especially when it appears that "An Evening With My Comatose Mother" was made by people who actually knew how to make a movie.
The genre-basic short is about Dorothy Pritchard; a young woman who is being paid by an obviously wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Poe to house sit and to watch over Mrs. Poe's comatose mother. Seems like a simple enough job, and at 40 bucks an hour, Dorothy is even willing to make sure the old gal doesn't sit around in her own mess (if you know what I mean). It was suppose to be a fairly straight forward job that is until everything turns into a hellish nightmare for Dorothy. Creepy dolls coming to life, ghost children, black-bile spewing old woman -- things are looking grim for poor Dorothy.
One of the regular critic quotes that is used for the movie is that "An Evening With My Comatose Mother" is a classic type of horror movie. To an extent, it is. The atmosphere and styling to the movie is reminiscent of 80's and 50's supernatural horror movies. There is a heavy focus on being genuinely creepy and scary with the spooky activity in Jonathan Martin's movie. Unlike, say the "Paranormal Activity" movies, where the scares come from predictable loud noises. As Chris Power (director of "Long Pigs") put it, it's like having someone slamming a phone book on a table behind you. "An Evening With My Comatose Mother" can be predictable to a degree -- you knew those goddamn dolls were going to come into play sooner or later -- but it still makes the scare factor work and is done in a much more respectable manner. Something is coming. Something is going to happen. What? When? How?! You just don't know!
A deterrent for some people is that the movie is as funny as it is creepy. Yes, "An Evening With My Comatose Mother" is one of those types -- a horror-comedy. It's an element that even I flip-flop on because, while I don't mind that it's funny (especially since it did get a laugh or two out of me), the movie is so good at being creepy I kind of wish it would have played the story straight. But, then again, if it would have played it straight would it have be as interesting or as entertaining? I would be so bold as to say probably not. It was entertaining that the movie was willing to lay on the horror element so thick that they even had fog INSIDE the house. It's ludicrous to the point that it's funny and yet it works well with atmosphere too. I'm emotionally conflicted!
Now more than ever I can understand why "An Evening With My Comatose Mother" has been popular on the festival circuit. It's thick with atmosphere, there's some good genuine scares, the humor is well placed and the movie is made very well. The score is killer, the lighting and camera work is phenomenal and there's some great practical special effects on display. "An Evening With My Comatose Mother" is a top quality horror-short that should be enjoyable for any horror fan. I think the only real complaint that I have with the movie is the ending felt abrupt. Possibly because that has a tendency to be a problem with short films but also because it felt like they had the means to take the movie and story further. The material was there. As it is, it's still a damn good short film that's entertaining.