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The Independent Critic

Nigel Barber, Bern Deegan, and Rachel Prince
Stuart Wheeldon

 "The Telephone" an Effective Psychological Horror Short 

In Stuart Wheeldon's The Telephone, Richard (Bernard Deegan) is a journalist who receives a letter and a glass ornament. With journalistic curiosities aroused, Richard travels to an English town where he learns about a woman whose gone missing. Checking into the public house where she was last seen, Richard is soon troubled by a telephone that won't stop ringing and visions of a woman who won't stop trying to strangle him. 

As is always true, of course, journalists don't leave when everyone would do so. Richard sticks around and comes face-to-face with Max (Nigel Barber, Spectre, Mission Impossible 5), an eccentric American with a penchant for abstraction and in complete denial that there's a telephone ringing. 

With hints of the gothic and a deep devotion to the the exploration of psychological horror, The Telephone is a mostly effective 26-minute short film that accomplishes quite a bit for a modestly budgeted short film. The film is the second in a planned trilogy of short horror films made and produced by Wirksworth, Derbyshire based Nine Ladies Film. Jennifer Whitmore's production design is particularly effective here, capturing nicely the mysterious, shadowy atmosphere in which the film takes place and drawing us in despite the obvious challenges of working on a low budget. 

The ensemble cast for The Telephone is strong across the board, though Nigel Barber's Max is particularly strong in leaving a lasting impact and creating a memorable character. 

There are times in The Telephone when the film's budgetary constraints are a tad obvious, from awkward transition shots to an occasionally uneven sound mix that becomes even more noticeable due to Jordan Frater's ever present original music that, at times, dominates the dialogue. 

Minor concerns aside, The Telephone is an effective psychological horror short that manages to amp up the suspense and hold onto it throughout the film's just over 26-minute running time. For more information on the film, visit their official website linked to in the credits. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic