I don’t think that writer-director Beth Ashby would mind if you called Where Monsters Lurk a horror movie—it’s even played in a couple of horror festivals. A friend of mine was recently talking about how Mental Filmness faces a lot of competition from horror movies in October, and I made some joke about how people don’t realize the real horror is inside their mind. If there was anything to prove me right, it would be this short film.
This film does an excellent job showing that how we perceive the world can be completely distorted by our depression. The main character Kelly is trapped inside her own mind and inside her own apartment by her depression. No matter what she does–read her mail, try to write, even try to listen to music to calm her nerves–her distortions twist what she sees and hears against her. She can’t even respond to a friend coming to check in on her, she’s so lost in her own world.
Where Monsters Lurk could be described as a sort of psychological and/or atmospheric horror movie where objects in Kelly’s apartment turn against her as her own mind does. Harmony Zhang does an admirable acting job as more or less a solo character alternating between hope and distress. Through set and sound design the filmmakers give a menacing presence to the horror of living with a condition that is often invisible to others.
You still have a week to check out Where Monsters Lurk in Shorts Block No. 5 of the virtual festival: https://watch.eventive.org/mentalfilmness2022/play/633f10a62035250045a9a876/631fa4d3f028500029715ee7