Take a break from the big game to get your Horror Short Sunday fix with this week’s spooky film The Ten Steps (2004)! If the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie poster got you excited for a trip down memory lane, then this film should keep the childhood nightmares going. Written and directed by Brendan Muldowney, The Ten Steps stars Jill Harding, William O’Sullivan, Paula Lee, Gerard Lee, Frank Coughlan, and Nuala Kelly.
Here’s a quick description:
Katie’s family moves into an old house on the Irish countryside, and learns soon after from the kids at school about a local legend claiming the devil has appeared in the basement. One night, while Katie is left home babysitting, a power outage forces her to slowly descend into the pitch black cellar to find the fuse box. Is the legend just make believe, or is evil really waiting for her down in the darkness?
Despite being made in 2004, The Ten Steps has the look and feel of a mid-90’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode, and I mean that in the best way possible. Everything from the film quality down to the old school cell phones is like a time capsule from the glory days of 90’s gateway horror. This short will fill you with nostalgia in a way that modern TV shows and movies just can’t replicate.
From a cinematography standpoint, the low-quality resolution of The Ten Steps gives it a charmingly retro aesthetic that actually works to the short’s benefit. Dynamic handheld camerawork is paired with eerie moonlit hallways, flickering incandescent lamps, candlelight, and deep shadows that will bring you back to the days of watching Buffy on The WB.
The premise of The Ten Steps is reminiscent of classic urban legends we all know and love, and is executed brilliantly for maximum suspense. Katie’s descent into the cellar is turned into a ticking clock as her father tries to keep her calm over the phone by counting down one step at a time. Such a simple decision mounts the terror until it’s unbearable, and allows the audience’s imagination to run wild.
Check out the full video for The Ten Steps below.
Want to discover more awesome horror shorts? Take a look at our past Horror Short Sunday picks!