Director Rodrigo Blaas’s short film “Alma” presents the illusion of whimsy and magic at first sight, but deep down “Alma” is one of the spookiest short films made in years. Its entire premise seems to be a metaphor for child endangerment and how easily children could get sucked in to the darkness of the world and disappear forever. The sentient store in the story could very well double for a stranger offering a child a treat, while the young girl in the movie is the child submitting to the temptation and paying a deadly price.
Though the music by Mastretta is never appealing to the suspenseful tone, insistent on providing more cheery and upbeat melodies, “Alma” is in fact a very creepy short animated film with a story worthy of exposition and exploration in feature length form. A young girl on a deserted snowy street writes her name on a wall and turns to a display window in a doll shop to see an incredible doll that looks exactly like her and is dressed in everything she is, right down to her mittens. The young girl at first resists every urge to explore the wonderful doll, but once she enters the store to gaze at the item, she finds it not only has a life of its own, but the gallery of dolls around her seem to also be dire signs.
“Alma” really does master the tone of suspense and impending doom as director Blaas opts for mounting tension that’s both subtle and easy to miss. The story does present the audience with some clues as to the finale, but never quite injects the dread until the very last instance where it’s just too late. By the time the movie has panned out from its setting, “Alma” has built a horrifying new villain and one that begs to be explored. With Guillermo Del Toro on the verge of developing a movie from this short film with director Blaas, I can’t wait to see what horrors will be unfolded from “Alma.”
A short animated film built on misdirection and whimsy, “Alma” is a deceptively spooky and dread filled film with a creepy story, and a potential supernatural villain that is teeming with potential to terrify. A short animated film built on misdirection and whimsy, “Alma” is a deceptively spooky and dread filled film with a creepy story, and a potential supernatural villain that is teeming with potential to terrify.