No Stall-ing: Darren Gaskell reviews “Cubicle” (short)

CUBICLE (short)

Starring: Charlotte Hamblin

Writer: Stefan Kaday

Director: Chloë Wicks

Review by Darren Gaskell

A woman (Charlotte Hamblin) heads to the bathroom to take a pregnancy test, the outcome of which may well be the polar opposite of what she needs right now.

Suddenly distracted by the sounds coming from the next cubicle, she’s initially amused but then increasingly disturbed by what may be happening in there. Should she investigate? And if she does, is she putting herself in potential danger?

This brisk short from director Chloë Wicks – clocking in at exactly four minutes – is an impressive exercise in establishing the set-up in the most economical way possible before giving us the rest of the time to ponder one of the most common of questions in the horror genre: Just what the hell is going on here?

There are classic tropes at play here – a lone woman under possible threat in a location from which there’s only one way; a sequence in which the doors of the other cubicles are pushed open one by one; an attempt to discover what’s tantalisingly out of sight on the other side of a partition – but these familiar touchstones are given fresh life by the approach, which constantly leaves the viewer wondering what’s real and what’s in the head of our protagonist.

With just one character and a minimal amount of dialogue, the heavy lifting falls upon the atmosphere and the building suspense. I’m happy to report, there’s plenty of both. Three cheers for not having a solo character who explains things to herself out loud as she’s going along or is given a handy voiceover to let us in on her internal monologue. We know exactly what she’s going through without it having to be spelled out.

The theme of potential of loss of identity comes into play as well as the everyday terror of having your life changed in the blink of an eye – or at least a few minutes after having peed on to a stick – but if you just want to treat Cubicle as an opportunity to sink ever deeper into your seat and wait to see if anything jumps out on the screen, it’s certainly more than effective as a bite-sized shocker.

The clean, sharp cinematography from Simon Rowling means that we’re not peering through the murk for shadowy figures lurking about although the blacks, dark greens and reds give an effectively claustrophobic feel to the location. Is there even a shadowy figure lurking about? I wouldn’t tell you if there was, there are no ruinous spoilers here. Come on, it’s four minutes long, people! You can spare that amount of time, I know you can.

Cubicle is a short that could have been overdone in any number of ways but it resists all of those temptations and is a breezy little chiller which wastes not so much as a second. It’ll also give you far more to talk about than your usual mini movie once the credits have zipped by.

Cubicle is available here:

About celluloiddeej

Film fan, horror festival goer, karaoke enthusiast, cat whisperer, world traveller, complete idiot. Happy to chat with you on your podcast/whatever if you can stand the Yorkshire accent.

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