Astrid Thorvaldsen‘s graduation film from the National Film & Television School in the UK, western/horror ‘Who Goes There?‘, was shortlisted for this year’s Student BAFTAs and had its world premiere at Indy Shorts International Film Festival this July, where it won both the Heartland Horror Award and the Heartland Horror Audience Choice award – and deservedly so.

The short film takes place in Minnesota, late 19th century, where three Norwegian sisters’ trust gets tested when a stranger appears on their prairie. When the eldest invites him in to heal her dying sister, she doesn’t realize that a supernatural force might have entered their home as well.

Astrid’s short film is one hell of a juggernaut. The scope of it feels bigger than any other short film I’ve seen this year, with breathtaking wide shots of Wales, that imitates the midwestern location the story takes place at. The prairie and claustrophobic dark cabin in the middle of nowhere, become a hunting ground for psychological threats, and that’s exactly what this unknown supernatural force seems to be feeding on.

William Gillies‘ story is solid and doesn’t become over-explanatory, but instead leaves breadcrumbs to connect all the dots. Combined with a small ensemble of ultra-talented women, the dialogue and emotional stakes get lifted to a higher level, while the constant threat lurks in the dark empty spaces inside and outside their house. This is also thanks to the simple yet effective set- and sound design that are truly next level, and actually don’t have any right to be this good. Tremendous!

Who Goes There?‘ is thrilling, demonic and above all, a prime example of how to do a lot with so little. Astrid Thorvaldson shows how to effectively scare the soul out of an audience, without relying on cheap tricks. Impressive filmmaking that won’t go unnoticed.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fantasia International Film Festival Short Film Review – ‘Who Goes There?’

Reviewed online (screening as part of Fantasia International Film Festival), September 1, 2020. Running time: 24 min.

PRODUCTION: A National Film and Television School (NFTS) production. Producer: Leah Bethany Jones.

CREW: Director: Astrid Thorvaldsen. Screenplay: William Gillies. Editor: Ami Aripin. Cinematography: Graham Boonzaaier. Music: Adam Speck.

WITH: Nina Yndis, Siri Meland, Rikké Haughem, Liam McMahon.

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