Short Memories #1: Mindless (2016)

Review by Darren Gaskell

In the “Short Memories” series, I’ll be taking a look back at short horror movies I’ve seen over the last few years. Hopefully I’ll make you aware of some hidden gems or remind you of a few mini-masterpieces.

First up, it’s Katie Bonham’s “Mindless”…

Starring: Nicholas Vince, Kate Danbury

Writer: Katie Bonham

Director: Katie Bonham

Peter (Vince) is a middle-aged man suffering from a form of dementia and his carer Judy (Danbury) arrives at his house each day to find the place in disarray. Framed photographs have been knocked from the shelves and crockery has been smashed. Peter insists that the damage has not been wrought by him but what other explanation could there be? Is Peter a danger to himself or could someone – or something – else be responsible?

That’s the intriguing premise of Katie Bonham’s assured short film and with a terrific performance from Nicholas Vince you’re never quite sure of what’s going on behind Peter’s eyes. Able to elicit both sympathy and suspicion, he’s one of the many aces Mindless has up its sleeve.

Bonham also seems to be able to distort time because although Mindless runs for just eight minutes (including credits) this is an unhurried, atmospheric, involving piece of work. This isn’t a thousand miles per hour charge through as many jump scares and gore effects that can be crammed in to the shortest amount of time possible. This is beautifully paced and thoughtful, going for a sense of deep psychological unease where other shorts would be waist deep in blood and entrails.

This approach pays off handsomely. I love it when I’m in the middle of a film and genuinely have no idea what’s coming next and Mindless had me itching to find out exactly what the hell was going on. Without giving too much away, the resolution is immensely creepy and satisfying yet still leaves the viewer with plenty to think about long after the end titles have rolled.

Bonham’s screenplay also points up the way in which people with dementia are viewed and treated by society but this is woven deftly into the proceedings and you won’t feel you’re being hit over the head with clumsy social commentary. Quite the opposite in fact – you’ll have a lump in your throat as well as a chill down your spine.

The minimal budget is turned into a virtue, putting the focus squarely on the characters which makes us care all the more about them when the story takes an especially disturbing turn. It also makes the shocks that much more deeply felt and in its own subtle way the climax of Mindless is devastating. This isn’t a throwaway scare ride, this is something that’s going to stay with you.

Proof positive that a) there’s a wealth of fabulous British horror movie talent out there and b) there are superb examples of the genre to be found in the short film format, Mindless is a triumph for writer/director Katie Bonham and its lead actor Nicholas Vince.

I first viewed this short in the run up to the Celluloid Screams Festival in October 2016, saw it again at the festival itself and have seen it again since. I still love it and I think you will too. Check it out if you get the chance.

About celluloiddeej

Film fan, horror festival goer, karaoke enthusiast, cat whisperer, world traveller, complete idiot. Invite me on your podcast if you can stand the Yorkshire accent.

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