After delivering a sci-fi short with Automation (2017) and a romantic drama short with Yamome (2018), Kenjo McCurtain tries his hand at a new genre: horror. For this short film, he found inspiration in a short story of H.P. Lovecraft called ‘The Statement of Randolph Carter’ (1919).
Imamura (Tetsu Shionuma) and Maruyama (Orson McLellan), two parapsychologists, venture to a group of abandoned and remote tunnels in search of evidence of the afterlife – what they encounter is far more sinister than anything they could have imagined.
Transmission is, in our view, a style experiment by McCurtain to discover his ability to craft horror. If we understand his latest short film in this manner, we are not surprised to discover that Transmission is thematically empty. It is an experiment of style and should be reviewed as such. So, does McCurtain succeeds in crafting a satisfying horror-short? In short, yes.
The unsettling nature of Transmission is – maybe contrary to one’s expectations – not function of the visual dimension of his composition. Even though he utilizes zoom-outs and zoom-ins for emphasizing the unsettling event of his narrative, McCurtain refuses to employ and cheaply exploit the common cinematographical tools for crafting horror.
The unsettling atmosphere of Transmission is function of the musical accompaniment and the sound effects. It is, first and foremost, the sound design that enables certain well-chosen shots to unsettle the spectator and gives the overall atmosphere of the narrative its subtle ominous flavour. Transmission may only be a experiment of style, but it’s a short experiment – a bit too short for its own good – that succeeds in engaging the spectator and keep him on the edge of his seat until the very end.