The Pey

Home alone on Christmas Eve, Ophelia “da Fox” is less concerned about setting booby traps for uninvited guests such as house burglars or carol singers so much as looking her best for her online followers, currently only numbering 255 but the night is young, the tree is lit and surprises come in small packages.

Tagged by her friend Faith in a post about “the Pey,” a demonic figure lurking in the shadows, only its red eyes visible, the response is immediate as new followers clock up, but rather than a sense of seasonal anticipation Ophelia is caught of guard, first by the strange noises from the roof of the house, then by the call from her friend Shelly who says the police are looking for Faith who has been missing since the previous night.

The festive season as much a time for remembrance and reflection as it is of celebration, writer and director Ramone Menon’s latest short film is perhaps more conventional than his found footage feature The Black Tape and more direct than his previous horror short Once Upon a Time in a Haunted House but with a single location and central character The Pey plays to his strengths.

Confident and accustomed to presenting her best, Katie Leszynski is the aptly named Ophelia, left alone and seeking attention but unprepared for the obsessive assault which will follow, and Daniele Manzin is the manifestation of the Pey, beautiful and elegant yet undeniably creepy, appearing differently to each person who shares the post, immediately leading to the presumption that it is some kind of a gimmick, a prank.

Shot in the suburbs of Los Angeles, The Pey is atmospheric, Ophelia’s home decorated and presented as perfectly as her online persona yet offering no protection under the stormy clouds and the blood-tinged full moon, a night of stillness and silence but for the ping of notifications, the messages from her friends changing in tone from confusion and concern to alarm.

Told in just over eight minutes less the end credits which remain consistent with the style of the film, The Pey is not ground breaking in terms of originality but it is professionally presented, engaging and entertaining, a reminder which can never be repeated too often to keep your wits about you, listen to the advice of friends when it makes sense, and to always keep your phone charged.

The Pey is currently playing the festival circuit following its premiere at the LA Shorts Festival