A new creepy Filipino short for the new year.

Horror’s irony is in its insistent irreverence. Why that is is because it is also one of the most critically structured genres in cinema. Everything has to sit perfectly right. It’s equally as important, however, to break the rules. Great genre filmmakers have had this in mind and have thusly created iconic films. These are also partly why you can tell from twenty-four thousand miles which is a wholly great horror film from one that is essentially a film student spent after pulling his every hair out after realizing the mistakes he’s made up ‘till the final days of production. In short, horror is no child’s play*.

But hey, when it works, it’s some reward. Such is the case in Kenneth Dagatan’s freshly released Sleepy Eyes, a brisk little short that features very little in the way of story and detail, but ultimately works. It follows a young girl about to tuck herself in for some hours of shuteye when a delinquent spirit that shares her room decides to be, well, delinquent. Almost every school of horror is applied in this short as the spirit gets increasingly close to the young girl. The rising score, created by Vince Lucero, adds a whole other layer of unnerve, a feat that I have seen in display in Dagatan’s first short film Sanctissima, which Lucero also scored. Dagatan, of course, is also a musician and knows music well, so there’s no surprise and only delight to hear the score crack and whistle as the tension escalates.

I despise drawing comparisons where they’re unnecessary, but to liken Dagatan’s new short film to David F. Sandberg’s Lights Out can only be meant kindly. His film is a great display of skill, one that applies almost clinically the lessons that masters of horror past have taught us, namely: “There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it.”

Watch Sleepy Eyes in full below and let me know what you think! I’m on Twitter. (@armanddc) Happy new year!

*that’s a roundabout way of saying that highbrow cinephiles got it wrong when they think horror is cheap cinema.