Do not watch this one just before bed! The Whistler is quite the creepy film, inducing all kinds of fears by applying the right tried and true horror tropes at the most effective times. Written and directed by Jennifer Nicole Stang, The Whistler is “Pied Piper” folklore-horror that is sure to entertain, scare, and delight classic horror fans.
The Whistler feels like an ode to the horror genre’s most archetypal and timeless films — Halloween, The Shining, and even some Hocus Pocus vibes. The film brings to mind so many classic horror films that it seems to be meta but without trying to be overtly meta, along the lines of Scream. The film may have some cheeky dialogue at times, but The Whistler grows into a scary short film as the atmosphere seems imminently ominous.
When her parents decide to go out, Lindsay (Karis Cameron) is forced to watch her little sister, Becky (Baya Ipatowicz). With her plans totally ruined Lindsay dutifully serves out her sentence, though quickly sends annoying Becky to bed. Asking for a bedtime story first, Lindsay tells Becky the legend of The Whistler, a man hanged for luring virgins to their deaths 300 years ago in their very town. Becky finally goes to bed and Lindsay settles in for a movie, but when it’s time for Lindsay to go to bed as well, she finds Becky missing from their home. Worried about Becky’s whereabouts, Lindsay goes into the woods in search of her sister but finds herself face to face with an urban legend.
My nerves were rattled in the right ways, as the film’s cringing violin score, dark lighting, and foreshadowing framing created an atmosphere heavy with horrific nostalgia. I loved the way all of the elements came together; award-winning director Jennifer Nicole Stang made a terrifying witch’s brew by mincing religious-occult horror with an imposing and ghoulish baddie and finishing it off with a youthful teen sheen with her young leads. Starring Karis Cameron and Baya Ipatowicz as sisters Lindsay and Becky, the pair had sisterly banter and were great fodder for Nelson Leis’s Jeepers Creepers-esque character, The Whistler.
The Whistler won Best International Horror Short at the 2018 Women in Horror Film Festival, among many other awards and nominations. Comprised of textbook but fresh character performances, a heavy atmosphere that only teases the menacing presence of its monster, very few jump-scares, and tons of artistic personality, The Whistler is available online via Shudder streaming service beginning February 3rd, 2020.
8 out of 10 ☠️