Echo Torch Illuminates the Unseen with Vibrant Effects and an Elegant Narrative

Short of the Day

Sci-fi meets spirit photography in this film from writer-director Chris Preksta.

I’ve been bringing you shorter shorts all week, so I thought for Friday we’d indulge in a slightly longer play with Echo Torch, a 20-minute retro-futuristic sci-fi flick from writer-director Chris Preksta. Besides being built around an intriguing and engaging concept – “An inventor creates an electrical torch that reveals a hidden world layered upon our own filled with beautiful spirits, strange creatures, and dangerous phantoms” – Preksta has deftly utilized meticulous production design along with fluid and vibrant VFX that together augment the spectacle of his film. It’s almost like a ghost story, or a thriller based around spirit photography, but at the same time Echo Torch is wholly its own entity, rich with spirit and an almost-aching humanity. Cinematographer John Pope helps Preksta bring his vision to life with camerawork that creeps along like a specter, contributing to the haunting atmosphere the script conjures.

If Preksta’s name is familiar to you, then like me you’re a fan of The Guild, Felicia Day’s webseries about MMORPGers; Preksta directed for that series, as well as his own series, The Mercury Man, which aired on SyFy back in 2011 and falls in a similar vein as Echo Torch, one of sci-fi that feels familiar but looks foreign, that melds the best of classic storytelling and contemporary technology, and that simultaneously recalls staples of the genre while exploring fresh territory. It almost comes across like Tim Burton directing a one-man Ghostbusters­ with technical input from Peter Jackson. The next logical step for Preksta is a feature (which Echo Torch, I think, could be expanded into), and if he puts as much care, attention, and imagination into that as he did this, his is a name you soon won’t have to remember because it’ll be on the tip of everybody’s tongue. Echo Torch is worth every one of its 20 minutes and then some. If you don’t have the time, make it.