BEDTIME STORY (a.k.a. El Cuento) **** Spain 2018 Dir: Lucas Paulino, Angel Torres. 9 mins
Currently being developed by Sam Raimi’s production company for feature length expansion, this genuinely scary Spanish short opens with a series of quiet but ominous tracking shots through a house. A stressed-out mother tells off her son for scaring his kid brother about the weird old woman who keeps an imposing eye on them from next door. He’s convinced she’s evil incarnate. Mum tells a marvellously discomforting – and blackly humorous – bedtime story about putrid kids getting what’s coming to them. The terrifying themes of classic fairy tales lurk within the modern framework of BEDTIME STORY (kids menaced by witches, the likelihood of being eaten), and it’s a scarring film for children of all ages. A shrill, jarring score and menacing cinematography create an ambience of tremendous unease, and it pulls off a fabulously gross scare on a bunk bed. The kids give strong performance, and it ends on a suitably chilling note. Mark Lucas Paulino and Angel Torres as a duo to watch: let’s hope that Hollywood doesn’t drain them of the talent and spark richly evident here.
Review by Steven West