Burning bridges brings a burden back to a begrudgingly besieged and besmirched boy in bondage blatantly beckoning briefly before breaking badly.
Cult Affairs is a short film by an ambitious aspiring filmmaker named Nate Thompson. Many major motion pictures (like Saw and Lights Out) started as short films, so does this enthusiastically eager writer/director have what it takes for a promising career in the film industry?
It starts with a man talking to another man who’s bound & gagged. A brief discussion about burning bridges indicates a business transition has gone horribly wrong. The story is told completely through the dialogue of an alleged Cult Leader (although he loathes this term.) It feels like the opening scene of a movie. I was invested throughout and interested in seeing more. The ambiguousness of the cult in question is what’s the scariest.
Nate Thompson wrote, directed, and starred in the role of the Cult Leader. He sets the spooky atmosphere instantly with an impressive use of light and shadow. The scene is lit entirely with a roaring fireplace and some candles. It reminded me of the scene in The Conjuring lit completely by matches. It takes a certain innovative skill to have dark scenes without making them too dark so I give credit when it’s due. I also noticed a motif in using orange and black. It’s subtle but very effective. He uses unique camera angles and movements to keep things visually appealing. I can’t overstate how gorgeous this film looks for what I’m assuming was a low-budget production. That’s the foundation most major horror franchises have built themselves on, squeezing blood from stones. He also includes some good jump scares but isn’t reliant on them. It’s a nice reminder that films can be shot with the mentality of less is more.
My only complaint is the poor audio quality. I had to watch it with closed captions to understand the otherwise inaudible dialogue. Other aspects of the sound like musical cues were fine I just had a problem when people spoke. Turning up the volume wasn’t helpful. I tried watching on multiple devices as well to make sure it wasn’t just my TV. My phone, laptop, and tablet had the same issue. It looks great but could have sounded better but I appreciate the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that went into making the film.
Overall, Cult Affairs has an esthetic remarkably reminiscent of horror films from the 70s and 80s. Nate Thompson makes excellent use of his cameras, lighting equipment, and filmmaking techniques creating a tensely executed environment. I highly recommend this if you can get past the sound problem but that’s a minor technical issue that can be fixed over time. It didn’t ruin the film for me personally. I’m very curious about future projects done by the striving filmmaker. I truly feel he has the potential for greatness after some more practice. That’s the only way one can truly master their respective craft. I wish him well in his future endeavors. And remember, the Cult Affairs are where the devil inevitably lives within us all.
Give it a watch below!
7 out of 10