Year: 2017
Written & Directed by: Davide Melini
Cast: Pedro Sánchez, Michael Segal, Tania Mercader
Runtime: 11m 48s

Upon discovering this short film, I was impressed with how well it had performed. During its first year of distribution, it has won 126 awards at a variety of film festivals which is quite the selling point.  Walking in to the film, I didn’t know much about it but the air of mystery made my viewing experience even better. The film is set in an isolated cabin, on a snowy night, which creates the perfect backdrop for a horror tale…

From the very first scene you can tell this cabin is not a happy place to be. Straight away we’re created with sounds of domestic violence, making the viewer feel instantly uncomfortable. The father in the film is repulsive and lives in a squalor, with cigarette butts, leftover pizza and empty cans of beer dotted everywhere. Michael Segal  really brought this character to life, showing us that not all villains are supernatural or machete wielding psychopaths. Some evil can be found in the average home, behind closed doors, where violence takes over. Sometimes humans can be more terrifying than anything else.

The way Lion deals with domestic violence, particularly against children, was done incredibly well. It’s not an easy topic to cover but this short makes an impact without going too far and making it gratuitous. Part of what makes this film so good is what you don’t see on screen, and how your imagination runs wild. It has a slow burning narrative that builds up the suspense and finally unleashes the climactic moment with only a few minutes to spare, providing closure and satisfaction for the spectator.

I really liked the use of special effects throughout the film, because they blended in nicely with the rest of the scene and weren’t overdone at any point. Cinematically it hits all the right notes for a horror film through it’s use of low-lighting, tense creeping moments, and an excellent use of music. Jump scares and gore weren’t needed in Lion, because it manages to deliver real horror in a much more subtler, but effective way. The presence of the lion throughout was a good motif to use as well, as they’re synonymous with courage and being a fighter. You’ll see what I mean when you watch it.

Lion is an incredibly important short film that I believe is a must watch, even for those who don’t tend to reach for horrors. The final card at the end reiterates the important message that is present throughout the film, and it really resonated with me. It’s a film with fantasy elements, yet still deep rooted within reality that it makes you want to stand up and take action in any way you can.