Giallo is a genre of film and literature that though popular with horror fans seems to have taken a step back into the shadows as of late. The most notable example of the genre I can think of in recent time is Andreas Marschall’s Masks. The genre is still around you just have to have the desire to search for it (as in the case of Masks). This is why, as a fan I was happy to review an email giving me the opportunity to review the short film Yellow by Ryan Haysom an English born director now based in Germany. As you may know Giallo translated from Italian literally means Yellow, so you can see where this short is going.
Yellow follows the story of a man obsessed with a serial killer who in turn is obsessed with him. He sits waiting for the next call to say the killer has killed again, mocked that it was done for him though in some perverse way he almost expects it so he can torture himself with the fact the murder was done for him. When the call comes, he knows the killer will strike again so he goes out into the night to hunt down the killer, the question has to be is he going to save the next victim or is there more to the story than meets the eye?
Yellow is very much in the Giallo style, all the expected tropes are there. The faceless killer, the violent and bloody deaths and a liberal splattering of nudity. The gore is effective and realistic yet over the top fitting the Giallo style. I was impressed with the fact that the music felt very much like a Goblin produced soundtrack, the heavy synthesised music adding the tension in just the right places to add to the feeling of oppression, yet when not needed did not intrude on the more important aspects of the scene when silence added the subtlety that was required. This felt very much like an Argento style Giallo, even down to what felt like a homage to the famous opening scene of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage where the hero is powerless to save the women being murdered as he is trapped behind a locked glass door and the killer having the power.
The most effective shorts I’ve seen are often the ones that have a limited script and rely on body language; Yellow fits this perfectly. The lead character played by Stephen M. Gilbert never talks, the only person who does is the masked killer and this is done through telephone calls and recordings. This means that Gilbert has to act out the characters feelings through his facial expressions and body language, which he does very well. You can tell that this man has been weighed down by the years of hunting for the killer and the years have taken their toll. We don’t get much information but I personally feel he was a failed detective and this case had almost beaten him, his only redemption would be to catch the killer and finally be at peace. This is never told to us of course, it just fits the Giallo style and the character that Gilbert is portraying. Even if he was never a detective it’s true to say that this is a man who has been pushed to the limits.
The killer, in true Giallo style is faceless we know much about him other than the killings and his style of violence, and his very cool mask of course. Typical of the genre the violence is against the women and while over the top is gory and realistic, sharp metallic objects are used in fitting ways with other methods used to dominate the victim to the killers will, this is not a place for imaginative killings though, just good old fashioned tried and trusted methods. The fact we learn very little of him is part of the enigma of his character, we only know what we need to and we wish we knew more.
Mention has to be given to the cinematography of the short, there are some stand out moments in the story that impressed me a lot. Moving away from the standard style of shot the camera was used to not only catch the watchers eye to hints of what is to come but to also disorientate us. The Director of Photography Jon Britt really did a good job in getting the Giallo feel, while at times moving away from it slightly when needed, just to add that extra edge.
It’s interesting to note that this was a crowd funded short, and if this is an example of what can be done it’s good to see that directors can get backing to create true innovation in the horror genre. The only thing I can really complain about is that it’s too short, I want a full length film of this. When you’ve finished watching it you’ll feel there was more to the story, I have my own theory as to what the truth was behind some of the more surreal shots, and what the story as a whole means but if there is one thing I can say about Yellow, is that it’s a strong example of classic Giallo meets modern day thriller and one that will have you begging for more.