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From its clever script to its unsettling climax, “Latched” is a memorable horror short that does everything right.

This review was originally posted on November 12, 2017, and it has been updated with minor formatting changes in an effort to help you discover great horror you may have missed.

YouTube and other streaming video platforms are overrun with short films, especially in the horror genre. While many of these shorts are quite good, others repeat the same plots, character types, villains, and jump-scares. Just how many videos can we stand with the monster’s sudden appearance at the very end, accompanied by a screeching audio effect? This repetition could result from the difficulty filmmakers encounter when trying to depict a powerful, suspenseful, or frightening story within a limited amount of running time.

Justin Harding and Rob Brunner’s Latched suffers from none of these shortcomings.

It’s a clever, dark, humorous, and chilling short film that deserves immense recognition and a wide audience. With this kind of production value and overall quality, even a full-length feature within the Latched universe sounds appealing.

Latched tells the story of a quirky choreographer (Alana Elmer) who travels to a remote cottage location with her infant child. Alana is preparing for an upcoming musical and dance production for which she will be responsible for the choreography. While caring for her child, she spends much time wandering the forest and acting out various dance moves, some of which are sensual, wild, and even a bit kooky.

This playful and creative approach to the character sets up the horror aspect of the story.

During one of their walks into the woods, the mother and child stumble upon a “fairy corpse,” a small, bat-like creature that appears dead.

Unwisely, Alana brings the creature back to her cottage, where her spilled breast milk brings it to horrific life.

The little details of the film — Alana’s passion for dance, the symbolic undertones of the breast milk, the seemingly harmless fairy corpse springing to life and growing in size — turn what might have been a generic “creature feature” into an impressive and original movie of maternal panic and horror.

Latched is only 17 minutes long, so to describe anything more about Alana’s interactions with the fairy creature would spoil the many surprises that the film offers.

One hokey line of dialogue aside, the climax is a stunner, darkly comic, and brutal at the same time.

The special effects and creature design both stand out here, as do the performances by Alana Elmer and the child (Bowen Harding).

Sure, he’s just an infant, but directors Harding and Brunner manage to capture some outstanding footage of the child, making his character someone to care about.

In short, Latched is a delightful horror movie, an intelligent and suspenseful masterwork that promises even greater projects from the entire production team.

This is the kind of short that stays with you for a long time after you watch. It may even inspire you to want to incorporate elements of this haunting film into a permanent keepsake like Custom Keychains — the perfect way to showcase your love for your favorite horror films, movies, hobbies, or passions. 

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