Today’s film is the 2016 short British Horror film Flat 6b written and directed by Andrew Niblo. It stars Bianca Buha and Natalie Maggs(Voice only). It is currently being featured in the winter 2016 award Festival at Fandependent Film Festival.
Flat 6b tells the story of Julia (Bianca Buha) a house sitter for the mysterious Agency Securities firm as she is offered a job watching over the Flat 6b in a very upscale residential tower. Things start off fairly normal for the young woman save for the very strict rules set down in the manual by the owner of the flat, the most important rule being never undo the door with the pad lock on it. Things quickly take to the bizarre and disturbing as Julia starts to hear knocking and voices coming from the locked room.
I truly enjoy horror films as I have watched them since a very young age but today’s films just never have that creepy sitting at the edge of your chair tension as they use to back in my day, Flat 6b however manages to rekindle that feeling. Right off from the start of the film you are met with a vast emptiness that serves to unsettle the viewer, after all it is not often that a massive high end tower has no one in the lobby. This is further added to by the fact Julia is never met in person by another living soul and leaves both the character and the audience with a sense of isolation and unease. This British film fully embraces it’s small budget by never letting another person appear on camera nor showing whatever is behind the locked down and leaving it fully to your imagination. To me this is one of the best kinds of horror film as whatever the studio can come up with as a horrific creature will always pale in comparison to something conjured by your own sub conscience. On top of this less is more strategy for horror comes the fact that Bianca Buha must pull of each scene herself without another person to act against. This is one of the hardest ways to make a film and more often than not crushes an otherwise great concept but not only does she pull it off it really makes the movie feel more claustrophobic and tense when the strangeness starts to occur.
The acting done by Romanian actress Bianca Buha is truly impressive, not only for the fact that she had all of her scenes alone but the way she brings such life and energy to the character of Julia is really quite good. She always comes off as genuine and believable and never once goes over the top with her fright which can really damage a film’s credibility. I don’t know how many horror films, both independent and Hollywood films, that I have watched where they have their actors just go overboard with the screams or exaggerated looks that it really removes the viewer from the experience, thankfully Bianca manages to bring true depth to her character. While she is never on screen Natalie Magg’s nameless Duty Manager comes off as cheerful and brings a subtle sense of menace to the feature. I’m not sure if this was intended but I can’t help but feel that her character not only knows what is in the closet but helps lure victims to it, if this is the case then I really applaud her for bringing such depth to a character you only ever hear over a phone and a call box.
The production value of Flat 6b is very high tiered which is common for British independent films I have found over my many movie reviews. The cinematography is wonderfully executed with it’s sharp and clear picture quality. Horror films by their very nature are often filmed in dark places where light is a rare commodity but Flat 6b goes a different route by having the scenes brightly lit and uses clean white surroundings. This not only is unusual but adds a sense of wrongness at the ugly dark padlock that breaks up the harmony of the sterile environment in a very effective way. Each scene is put together carefully with clever use of cut away and slow motion to take the place of expensive special effects or CGI shots and thankfully has no shaky cam effect that is so overdone in horror films these days.
The audio work of the film is really stellar for such a mall budgeted film. Sound in horror films is absolutely critical more so than in any other film and requires the greatest of care. A sound track can really make or break a horror film and I was truly on the edge of my seat with the tension and ominous cords played throughout the film in a way that I haven’t been since I first watched A Nightmare on Elm Street (Which was the only movie to ever really scare me as a kid). The voices of the two actresses are heard perfectly well at all times and there isn’t any annoying artifacts or hissing that is common in low budgeted films.
When I look back at all the recent horror films I can help but shake my head. These days it is all about the gore and body torture to shock the viewer and it is so common now that it barely phases us anymore. That is perhaps Flat 6b’s biggest advantage as it is a thinking mans horror film that never shows the monster and lets the viewer’s imagination take full effect on the plot. It relies on subtle horror and not jump scares to get a cheap reaction and surge of adrenaline from the viewer that I not only find refreshing but actually had me on edge. At just over twelve minutes I highly recommend anyone who loves the horror genre to take a look at this gem of a film.
You can check out more of Andrew Niblo’s work on his website: Niblo.net