DRIP (1996) Short film. Dir. Steven Gomez

Yes, another short horror film from youtube,  only this time I’ve sought it out deliberately. It took a bit of finding, too. I can remember catching this on a very late night Channel 4 screening, according to imdb it was in 1996. Jeez, quite a while back then.

Anyway, the story itself should be familiar to anyone who’s been told scary stories by sadistic older kids growing up, or who takes even a passing interest in urban legends. The YouTube video of this which I’ve posted below is a bit grainy but otherwise not bad.

I ask you to give it a chance, in a dark room fairly late at night, and see what you think. I found a large but not full screen version the best way of viewing this.

SPOILERS AND ANALYSIS

I remember ‘Drip’ being a lot scarier, actually, proving that those who watch things through their fingers are actually sparing themselves less scary dodgy animatronics and effectively making films more terrifying than they really are. But the atmosphere of isolation, the rising dread in the creaking house and the gliding, stalking camera that tracks the ‘lonely woman’ work beautifully. With just two – or perhaps three characters – this is a great short horror film.

It really isn’t one for dog lovers – I feel even worse about the Fly’s fate than I did the first time I watched it, he’s such a sweetheart; but to warn anyone of this before viewing is just spoiling the scare. It is a horror, and pets are usually first in the murder line. I also think most people will already know this story. It’s a very well known urban legend, albeit with a very supernatural pay-off, frankly it’s is up there with ‘hook man’ and ‘Bloody Mary’. It was even subtly referenced in an episode of Supernatural. It’s part of the reason I remembered this short film so clearly.

While I was looking for this piece of nostalgic horror, I noticed several hundred other versions of the ‘Drip’ story just searching on YouTube alone. The story evolves all the time, from when it’s being told around the campfire or by an evil older sibling. The version I’ve heard is the other most common one, with the creature under the bed the requisite escaped lunatic, and sometimes the lady is infirm, very elderly or completely blind. While this was a more down to earth, more scarily possible version of the story, I like the way that in Drip (2006) the thing is a demon of some sort which she has somehow disturbed.  Now, the problem with the reveal of a demon, rather than a creepy man, under the bed is mainly that I’m a bit surprised the demon didn’t simply nip her fingers off while she was patting it for reassurance. Is it just messing with her? Was it using the dripping noise deliberately, to lure her upstairs? That suggests a level of central plumbing knowledge that demons may or may not possess, whether they’re fictional or not. Given how the poor dog ends up, I’m going with the monster ‘messing with her’.

The strength of true horror, and the urban legends in particular, rests in being unaware of how close you are to something evil until its proximity is revealed. The scary thing about ‘Drip’ is the realisation that she (standing in for us, the viewer) has touched the horror, put herself in danger. That the threat has been barely avoided, but is still lurking somewhere in the house, hiding under the very bed she/you were just sleeping in. And you put your hands on it!
As a final note:
The story ends at its most terrifying point, and leaves me curious about what happens next. Does she run out of the house screaming, driving off? Would she make it as far as the door before it came after her? Is that even what it wants? Is it just under the bed because the previous owners kept it as a pet to keep out burglars? What is it? I honestly remember a more terrifying face under the bed than the one here, but realistically I still wouldn’t want to run into it in the dark, on my own, in a house when I’d just found the eviscerated remains of my pet dog. Nope, pretty much anything is a best-case scenario compared to that.
That’s why Steven Gomez’s ‘Drip’ is a terrific retelling of an urban legend which refuses to die.

Peekers – the short story, the video, the terror!

I read the short story first, as a Kindle download. A man gets up and has breakfast when he’s interrupted by his elderly neighbour. Starting off like any other day, with a minor annoyance, things get weirder and worse, and possibly apocalyptic. Horror arrives when realisation hits. Rather than using gore and violence and vampires, Peekers exploits a much worse sort of terror – that of the inexplicable and the unseen. Suddenly the everyday has become deeply unsettling. It gets worse.

The short film based on this captures the mood of the story perfectly. The first time I watched this I had no sound due to speaker issues. Oddly, this only increased how utterly spooky the whole idea is.

Although the music at the very start might be off-putting to some, I think the banality effectively ensures that the horror of it – of someone watching, peeking and you have no way to understand why – is a truly frightening experience. The best scares never quite show you everything.

SPOILERY THOUGHTS ON THIS FILM AND STORY

Obviously the title suggests the game of ‘Peekabo’ which you may have played with your parents, and other adults as an infant. Giddy childish glee at being terrified morphs into real fear of hidden faces as an adult. Like the best horror films it makes us feel vulnerable, powerless, returning us to being kids again. This seems to be similar to the reason why the Alien in ‘Alien’ (1979) is scary – we are reminded of adults leaning over our cots as we lie there helpless. That and something with big teeth, and then more big teeth, is always going to be pretty frickin’ awful to run into down a dark alley. But I’ve been reading about this, Pareidoliawhich is apparently why people see the Virgin Mary on tortillas, and presumably the reason for websites and articles about houses that look like Hitler. It also taps into this, the Caprgras Delusion, which is a Bodysnatchers-mindset or ‘Imposter Syndrom’. And, well, what DO those creepy half-faces actually want from us? And is the other half of the face even more terrifying?

On the other hand, we could just man up, go over there and kick the half-faced freaks’ butts. If they have butts and aren’t just floating there in mid-air, all half-faced and giggling.

For more terrifying faces, TV Tropes to the rescue!