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Shocktober Short Film Of The Week: ‘Devil In The Room’

The flannel shirts are out and you’re struggling to find a new offering for your 31 Days Of Horror marathon. Yep, spooky season is in full effect. And we’re celebrating the creepiest time of year by bringing a bevy of frightful flicks to the short-form corner here at Cut Print Film. So lock your doors, kill the lights and try to keep your eyes open for Carla MacKinnon’s nightmarish docu-horror Devil In The Room.

The Plot: Terrifying first-hand accounts of sleep paralysis are explored through the use of animation and animatronics.

The Film:

Sometimes the scariest stories are the ones that come from their real life. If you’ve ever suffered from sleep paralysis yourself, then you know there are few real world experiences as terrifying. If not, well, count yourself lucky, and get ready to have the wits scared out of you by Devil In The Room. Unfolding as a mix of real world terror and ghoulish animation, Carla MacKinnon’s chilling documentary blends the most frightful elements of both worlds to convey one that only exists in the gray areas between nightmare and reality.

And trust us, just listening to first-hand stories of sleep paralysis can be a deeply unsettling experience in its own right. MacKinnon wisely lets those stories speak for themselves, but she pushes each unnerving account to hair-raising extremes by recreating them on screen with a mix of live action, animation and puppetry.

The effect is something akin to maniacal menace and confounding chaos. Only organized. Words and music and wild, disturbing imagery all fold in on each other to turn Devil In The Room into a suffocating nightmare-scape without a beginning, a middle or an end. Simply put, Devil In The Room is as close to experiencing actual sleep paralysis as you’d ever want to get.

Meet The Crew:

Written, Produced & Directed by: Carla MacKinnon Narrated by: Professor Chris French Cinematography by: Hugh Gordon & Aflred Thirolle Animation by: Christian Schlaeffer & Carla MacKinnon Sound Design & Music by: Dominic de Grande Puppets Designed & Fabricated by: Anna Ginsburg and Jen Cardno

We hope you enjoy Devil In The Room! The film was made as part of Carla MacKinnon’s MA program at Royal College of Art, but MacKinnon has gone on to feature the film on thesleepparalysisproject.org – a website dedicated to sharing sleep paralysis stories and research. While MacKinnon continues her push to bring attention to this alarming, real-life affliction, she’s yet to find her way back into the director’s chair. While we’re waiting to see what MacKinnon does next, you can check out more of her work over at her Vimeo Page.

While you’re there, be sure to check out some of the thousands of other short films – scary, scarier and scariest – team Vimeo has curated for your viewing pleasure (via desktop or mobile device … SWEET!). You’re sure to find something interesting, and you may just stumble across your new favorite filmmaker.

And just as an FYI – if you’re a glutton for the real-life terror that is sleep paralysis, you might want to check out Rodney Ascher’s (Room 237) feature length documentary The Nightmare. That film takes a similar approach as Devil In The Room, is equally enthralling and often far more disturbing. Also, it’s now available to stream on Netflix. Check it out if you dare!

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Patrick Phillips is a Staff Writer for CutPrintFilm and geekinsider.com. He spends his time drinking coffee, buying records, writing stories and wondering why he never started a band. Follow him on Twitter at Patrick Phillips @savagedetectiv