The Captured Bird Delivers Gothic Chills and Inspired Scares

By  · Published on October 31st, 2016

Short of the Day

A brief nightmare for Halloween produced by Guillermo Del Toro.

I wanted to give you something scary for today, and a recent post from Geek Tyrant reminded me of this modern classic from 2012, Jovanka Vuckovic’s The Captured Bird. If Vuckovic’s name sounds familiar to you, that’s because since this short’s release – her directorial debut, by the way – she’s gone on to release a couple of other shorts, Self Portrait and The Guest, and is one of four women writing and directing for the horror anthology XX, out early next year; the other three are Annie Clark (a.k.a. musician St. Vincent), Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, The Invitation) and Jennifer Lynch (Surveillance, Chained). Oh, and Vuckovic was also the editor-in-chief of one of the greatest horror movie mags ever printed, one every true fan of the genre knows and admires, Rue Morgue.

A definite up-and-comer in the world of horror, Vuckovic’s work has a gothic ambiance and reflects a host of classical cinematic influences – Dario Argento, William Castle, Claude Chabrol and Hitchcock – while at the same time incorporating elements of dark fantasy similar to what you’d see in certain films by Jean Pierre-Jeunet and Guillermo Del Toro, the latter of whom served as one of Vuckovic’s producers on The Captured Bird.

The film concerns a little girl (who Orphan Black fans will recognize as Skyler Wexler; she plays Sarah’s daughter Kira) who’s drawing chalk figures on the sidewalk when a stream of black liquid seeping through the bricks leads her to an elegantly creepy old house in the woods where inside all manner of red-lit horrors await her, including the birth of some very unsavory creatures with some very unsettling notions.

This short oozes atmosphere and wears its influences proudly and deftly on its sleeve. The plot moves like a slithering snake sneaking up on its prey and the visual effects are convincingly terrifying. At the end, besides being unnerved in the best of ways, you’re also convinced you’ve just met one of the next great horror directors. We’re still waiting from a feature from Vuckovic but hopefully after XX she’ll craft something insidious for us. Until then, check out The Captured Bird and her other work, but maybe leave a light on.

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