Both of these short films, House Of Lexi and The Affliction Table were written and directed by M W Daniels. Rather than review them separately I’m doing both in the piece as in many ways, the strengths and weaknesses of each are very similar.
House Of Lexi
House of Lexi, if anything shows that Daniels as a director can use the camera well. The slow moving shots, from the opening credits to the camera moving inside and outside the house the story is set in. But using the camera is one thing. You also need to tell a good story and this is where Daniels goes wrong.
The story here is that of a woman, who lives with her sister…or does she(?). As the story progresses, it becomes apparent that her sister is not real, which I think most of the audience figured out early in the story. At the end we get the story of the history of Lexi and her past.
It wants to perhaps be a haunting tale of grief, perhaps intending to be a horror short, but while there are brief moments where the aspect of grief works well, any moments where the horror might come into it don’t work at all.
The performances in House Of Lexi are sadly no better than okay, with only Emma Dark as Lexi being giving a good performance.
The Affliction Table
The Affliction Table suffers a different problem. With no dialogue, essentially one location, the story of a man who appears to summon a woman and they begin to carry out fetish rituals needs the imagery to work. If it doesn’t work then despite the music, which I did like, the story is going to drag or confuse. And for me, the visual aspect of the story didn’t work at all.
The cast in this case can’t really be faulted, as they do their best in this silent film, but its a story I never found compelling at all, even for it’s 15 minute or so running time.
M W Daniels has made four short films, according to the IMDB. I’ve seen just the two of them. Of the two, House Of Lexi is the better.
As a writer, I think he needs to develop more, perhaps finding a co-writer to work with. The music in his films is not bad, which makes sense as Daniels has a background in music and House Of Lexi does show he can shoot scenes very well indeed.
I can’t say I liked both shorts, one I thought poor, the other no better than okay, but perhaps with some guidance, Daniels can become a better story teller. But only time will tell.