Scratch Behind Walls While This Short Will Haunt You
Scratch Film Details
Director: Emma Bell
Writer: Helen Shang
Release Date: 2017
Release Format: Film Festival
MPAA Rating: N/A
Genre: Short, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Running Time: 14min
When a repressed 1950s housewife is left alone by her philandering husband, she makes a horrifying discovery about the noises in the house that are coming from the walls.
I’m a big fan of Adam Green’s Frozen, an underrated survival film that stars Emma Bell. No, it’s not the Disney one. (Though I liked that one too.) When I heard the opportunity to watch and review Bell’s directional debut I was stocked. I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint me at all. It even surprised me with its twist and how the story unfolds.
Scratch tells the story of a 50’s housewife who is struggling to keep her husband invested in their relationship while she suspects he’s having an affair by spending little time with her and at their house. She hears voices and scratches coming from the walls and her husband thinks she has some kind of disease so she keeps popping pills throughout the day.
That’s her routine. She keeps wondering what’s happening with her marriage and her life while she deals with other problems behind the walls or – as we may think – in her head. Is it in her head though? Is she crazy and paranoid?
The story seems perfect for a short film, there’s an intriguing element to it and since you have little time to tell all of it, we don’t succumb to the tragedy of being bored by Lily and her husband’s storyline and their routine dialogues. Here we focus on Lily, the housewife, and we stay with her and we see her journey throughout discovering the truth behind her demons. That’s the important thing about Scratch and I’m glad Bell and Helen Chang, the writer, stayed on this path.
I felt impressed with Bell’s directing, the shots are beautifully organized. The cinematography feels coherent and it is peaceful throughout the film (ironically) which feels good and puts the viewer at ease looking at it. Her shot decisions are precious and I loved how detailed and delicate the work must have been throughout the production. You can sense Bell has this power of sharing her world with us. There’s love for cinema and filmmaking, there’s actor’s direction at its best and it’s almost a love letter for all women.
It’s special to watch Scratch in 2017 because we’re confronted now with women being targeted by powerful men. We’re encountering many stories and voices are being heard. Scratch even though it doesn’t have any physical violence in it, it has a voice of its own as well… You can feel the power behind it. The message, the shame and the truth. Lily struggles to keep her husband interested, but why should she be the only one trying? Why can’t he be more interested in her and care for her as she cares about him? The film reflects on how we want to change to feel desired and feel noticed. Or how much should it take to go there?
Lily confronts herself at the end, another version of her, a more promiscuous and dangerous one and as she sees what’s happening in front of her and how her husband reacts to her new personality, she feels lonely even more. She has to change for her husband to feel attracted or even appreciated. And it should be the 50’s, why do I feel it still happens nowadays?
Anyway, even though the subject of it is horrific when you transport it to real life, the film still has its moments of creepiness and horror itself that deserves mentioning. Scratch has some amazing special effects and the makeup is outstanding. If you like nails scratching behind walls, creepy scratching sounds and full on makeup practical effects, Scratch is your film. The score fits its purpose and delivers great tunes, and you can even hear Bell sing throughout a song in the film.
Overall the film delivers some amazing performances, by Bel Deliá, magnificent as the fragile and tortured Lily and turning out to surprise you at the middle of the short. Being Bell an actress above all, it helps to create a form of safety net to the leads and for them to deliver their best performances. It worked because you can feel the passion they had portraying these characters.
3. In Conclusion
Emma Bell’s first take on directing is a success and she definitely has a vision of her own by creating a horror film with a voice. I’m happy to share she received the award of Best Thriller Short at the Women In Horror Film Festival.
Click for information on rating metric: 0-10 Avoid | 11-20 Mediocre | 21-30 Good | 31-40 Average | 41-50 Satisfactory | 51-60 Stunning | 61-70 Terrific | 71-80 Must See | 81-90 Amazing | 91-100 Impressive