A mystery thriller that juggles fear and hope.
By Edwin Miles
Fortem is a short film by Falmouth University film students. Anna, ominously looking similar to the girl from The Ring (2002), is haunted by a nightmare that she describes to an unknown, older male. Her dark hair covers her face, the room she is in is barely visible apart from the whiteness of her patient overalls and the mans bleached white shirt. He asks her vague questions and she answers with vivid images that flash across the screen before melting into a parallel narrative.
Throughout, character’s faces are hard to see fully, and the settings are shot within an aching dull dark graininess; everything aims toward mystery and uncertainty. Colours are only faintly visible; the red chairs the two characters sit in, the red rose, and the luminescent disco lights that spiral round an unknown room. The man says “we’re here to help” which prefixes a looming, unnerving score. Something is not quite right.
The filmmaking team have created a short that is mysterious but is not concerned in solving the mystery, only adding to it. It is certainly a film that requires multiple viewings. Though it does occasionally play off classic horror tropes, Fortem manages to conjure some scares – as the narrative unravels, the more endearing Anna becomes. The camera confines our sight almost always to close-up, preventing us from getting any bigger picture, but only small snapshots of the whole. It is concerned with soft touches, short glances, and hands as if forcing us to get to grips with the story bit by bit.
Fortem is a film that is simply constructed, combining two lines of narrative that seamlessly merge. It may be confusing at times, but only for the good of the mystery.
To be released to festivals later this year.