Directed By: Jennifer Valdes
Written By: Jennifer Valdes & Samuel Oswald Stone
Leon--Bradley Brian Custer
Isabelle--Mara Lee Gilbert
Mumbai--Anthony Saint Thomas
Aunt Ingrid--Susan Adriensen
Lady Ursula--Bettina Skye
A stark, black and white short film from director Jennifer Valdes ("Jack-O-Slasher"), "Isabelle" opens with a mournful funeral scene and doesn't get any happier from there. Leon, the troubled widower of the titular Isabelle, desperately wants his wife to return to him, and is willing to do anything to make it happen. Enlisting the help of voodoo priest Mumbai, the quickly unraveling Leon soon learns that resurrecting his rapidly decaying spouse isn't going to be as easy as 1-2-3.
"Isabelle" is a grim, blackly comic, gothic soap opera. Theatrical inspired performances and dialogue that seems lifted straight from Poe, "Isabelle" clips along at a creepy, deliberate pace, and winds up nicely with a twist that lends a certain "morality tale" vibe to the short. Custer brings Leon to creepy, edge-of-sanity life, and envokes feelings of both sympathy and revulsion from the viewer, a testament to quality writing and solid acting chops. Manic, over the top performances from Saint Thomas, Skye and the incomparable Adriensen, contribute to the overall surreal, stage play feel of this entertaining short film.
Valdes shows a capable hand at storytelling with "Isabelle", using: grave robbing, shades of necrophilia, murderous bargains, and the occult to weave a truly disturbing tale, with a strange, unsettling style. And style, fright fans, is something that is sorely lacking in today's indie genre fare.
Scream King Tom