Harry is celebrating his 60th birthday with his beautiful wife and his wonderful children. Everything seems to be going great for Harry until his past comes back to haunt him. Now the lives of his family are on the line as he forced to remember his past sins and if he doesn't, the consequences will be dire.
Hey, who would have guessed YouTube actually had a purpose beyond being a cespool for the internet? I came across the short film "Harry Doright's Prelude to Hell" on the site and while I started watching it for the name I became completely blown away by the movie. "Harry Doright's Prelude to Hell" is a short film from the Netherlands that tells the story of what happens when you make a deal with the devil and the devil comes to collect his due.
The main plot of a character being punished for past indiscretions, or sins rather, and the character's actions creating their own hell isn't that terribly original. In the case of "Harry Doright's Prelude to Hell" it isn't about originality - it is about execution and Erwin van den Eshof nailed it. The demon character that pays Harry a visit on his 60th birthday to collect what is his and to punish Harry has a bit of a cheesy monster charm - as Ronny pointed out he or it will remind you of "Wishmaster" or "Pumpkinhead". Or maybe a less terrifying "Hellraiser".
While the demonic character adds some nostalgic horror charm it is the drama and emotional turmoil that it manifests that makes the short feel amazing and the story seem a bit more potent than usual. Often it is the characters themselves who are punished for their wrong doings while in "Harry Doright" it's the loved ones who are punished in order to cause the most emotional damage. In reality, people in general can tolerate physical pain (to an extent) that is inflicted upon them but once we see our loved ones being hurt - that cuts deeper than anything else. That is what Erwin exploits in his story and characters; certainly we want to feel for Harry's plight we begin to realize that he is to blame - causing an emotional conflict. To me, the power of the movie can be summed up in a single line from the demon character when he speaks to Harry and says, "But when you are older and when to you it matters the most I will come to collect your debt." Make fun of me if you will, but when I heard that line it gave me the chills. Especially in the context of the movie with the very haunting score that's being played.
"Harry Doright's Prelude to Hell" is why I love short films so much. When they are good they are great - they can pack just as much punch and be just as effective as a feature length. In the case of "Harry Doright" I don't think it could have worked as a feature length movie - it would have felt needlessly drawn out. As a short film though, it's damn near perfect. Beautiful cinematography, a well fitted score, some solid performances...I can't help but wonder why this short has fallen by the wayside. Hopefully this small review will help change that.
NOTE: The movie seems to be uploaded to YouTube by the director himself - at least the info seems to match up with that of Erwin's which is why I'm linking straight to the YouTube page.