Oscar’s Bell

A night in the outdoors, camping by the woods, away from the lights of the city; it’s not clear whose idea it was or who it means more to, Duncan or his young son Ross, one sat staring into the campfire, the other fast asleep in the comfort of the brightly illuminated tent, but from the what Ross’ pleading mother has said on the phone it certainly wasn’t her choice.

The night moves on, and Duncan’s eyes droop, a poor watchman despite his love for his son and the serenity and solitude of nature, but Oscar is alert and awake, at home in the country, taking in the scents of the wild, the grass, the trees, the animals which move among them.

It is Oscar who knows there is something out there in dark before his master, responding and investigating. Moments later, Duncan awoken by a distant noise beyond the treeline, the soft tinkling of Oscars’ bell, immediately wondering – where is Oscar and what has he found out there in the dark?

An atmospheric short film directed by Chris Cronin, co-written with Sam Cronin who also serves as cinematographer, Oscar’s Bell is currently playing the festival circuit where it has most recently won the Audience Award for Best Short at Edinburgh’s long-running Dead by Dawn Horror Film Festival.

Funded by an Indiegogo campaign and with shooting commencing in early 2017, Cronin keeps it simple, the green stubble of the grass, the brown of the dried ferns, the crackle of another log on the glowing fire, the sanctity and purity of nature coalescing after dark into a place of shadow, mystery and growing dread, a Pavlovian conditioning as deep as a ringing bell.

Stunningly lit in its minimalism, Peaky Blinders‘ Paul Bullion moves from the comfortable and contemplative father to increasingly concerned guardian and protector of his son (Rio Walker), while huge praise is deserved by four-pawed performer Anti in the title role, responding to every demand of the script.

The camera creeping closer, a prowler in the night, Oscar’s Bell preys on the fear of the dark, the shuffling sound of the thing unseen in the decaying undergrowth just beyond the ring of warmth and light and the primitive protection offered by the fire, a sinister apprehension effectively distilled and conveyed by cast and crew.

Following its world premiere at the Telluride Horror Show, and its success on the festival circuit, Oscar’s Bell is now available online