From the opening shot of the French-Canadian short film Landgraves, there’s an oppressive sense of dread. Like the inevitable change of seasons as the air chills. Like snow piling high in The Shining. Director Jean-François Leblanc uses remote locations and regional weather to conjure suspense for his pensive, patient rumination on evil. The pandemic has decimated the film industry and festival programming across the globe. So Decibel is thrilled to bring you options to watch this short film now. As part of the DC Shorts International Film Festival, you can watch this tense, moody film until September 23rd.
The film’s plot is simple and familiar. An eager journalist travels to the woodland studio where a mysterious metal band records their new record. It’s the band’s first recording since their release from prison. The details around the imprisonment involve the death of their band member, whose corpse adorns their album cover. Using Mayhem’s notorious early headlines as inspiration, screenwriter Alexandre Auger largely avoids sensationalism. While Lords of Chaos brought you ever stab and slash, it’s the implied violence and unreliable narrators that make Landgraves so chilling. As the blizzard outside rages, the protagonist wonders if he will be the next album cover before dawn arrives.
The cinematography captures the candle-lit atmosphere of a séance as well as full-moon nocturnal suspense. The acting performances are subtle and humanistic; wonderfully directed by Leblanc. The music featured in the film strays from traditional Norwegian black metal into blackened doom/drone. But the crawl of the riffs was a great stylistic choice for the film. Landgraves never sprints towards its icy terror. Just like it’s difficult to run through snow, the film’s pacing slowly pushes you closer to the climax.
Watch the trailer for Landgraves below for a glimpse into the film’s atmosphere. Watch the entire short film (and others in the horror category) HERE. This festival darling is available until September 23rd, so you have a week to watch its awesomeness.