Creatures of Whitechapel (2016) [Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2017]

London, 1888, someone is killing prostitutes. At the same time, a mad scientist is putting together a creature.

In this mash-up of Frankenstein and Jack the Ripper, Igor is now a woman and on the hunt for body parts. Frankenstein’s creature is a touch different and the film gains greatly from it. Co-written by Jonathan Martin and Rebecca Martin, with the former directing as well, Creatures of Whitechapel takes two well-known stories, mixes them, and creates a story that works perfectly. The changes to the characters work and their new ways bring these stories some fresh air. The characters created this way are fun to watch and layered in a way that feels non-gimmicky as opposed to most film that pull the gender-swap card. The stories work well once merged into one and the mysteries they create are interesting. The film makes good use of known characters, locations, and stories, creating a short film with a ton behind it and a lot of interest for most horror fans.

Playing the lead is Carlee Baker who is almost unrecognizable in how much she transforms herself into her role. The part is one of the gender-swapped ones and she makes the most of it, playing her character as mostly androgynous and completely low-key badass. She is the center of this film the second she shows up and keeps the attention on herself in each and every one of her scenes. She’s quite powerful in this complicated, vulnerable yet strong part. Jillian Joy is also great here as Mary Kelly, she gives a performance that feeds off of her surroundings and those she shares the screen with, giving one of those performances that is remembered for a long time after the credits roll. The cast for the other parts is also quite good, including Victoria Halloran, Barrett Ogden, Rick Macy, etc.

The film is one hell of a talent amalgamation. Everything seen on screen in this short is well-thought-out and designed. The cinematography by Jason Ball frames all of this work beautifully, giving each image a specific look, a look that is all lush and perfect for the story. The art direction by Jonathan Martin and Daniel Whiting shows that they knew exactly what they wanted to show on the screen and how to do so. From the décors, the sets, the costumes, the lighting, and everything else shown on screen is calculated and designed with talent. The costumes are particularly great along and the lighting gives the story colors, mood, and atmosphere. What is shown on the screen matches the story and creates feelings to go along with it, something even master filmmakers have struggled with, showing that the filmmakers behind Creatures of Whitechapel knew what they were doing and took the time to plan it all carefully.

Creatures of Whitechapel is an absolutely fantastic short that could easily be turned into a feature, but works perfectly as is. The short film format gives it just the right amount of time to develop its story while keeping some mystery. The acting is powerful and talented while the whole production is clearly carefully planned and executed. The whole short shows tons of talent from everyone involved and a knack to create something visually stunning and filled with emotional connections. It’s one of those shorts that makes horror fans wish shorts were more easily accessible. It’s one of those shorts that needs to be seen on the big screen to get its full scope and impact.