Why Watch? A young girl is strapped to a table with a few medical tools at her side. Her mouth is covered in duct tape. This set up has become so standard that it comes as a free template on screenwriting software, but where this beautifully smart short from writer/director Rob McLellan gets it right is in introducing us to a different kind of Hannibal Lecter.

The killer’s plaintively polite introduction is the first cold shiver, and throughout an existential session of villainous monologuing, there are a handful more that crawl into your skin and find a place to live. The parallels are eerie — the disconnect, the drive to do something others say is wrong, the freezing lack of empathy beyond an infant’s understanding (and desire for) love. That’s all echoed by a character design that uses the uncanny valley to its favor. McLellan and Craig Stiff have crafted something human that’s unmistakably not. And yet, behind those kind eyes and soft voice…it’s really hard not to like him. This is probably what happens when Blinky™ grows up and gets organized.

ABE features stellar work all around. The camera (beyond a few floating moments in the enclosed space) is interesting, and the sound and score help build some serious tension, but the real star is the one holding the scalpel.

What Will It Cost? About 7 minutes.

Skip Work. Watch More Short Films.

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