The Horse and the Stag is a horror/drama short film by writer/director Jonathan Cuartas about a young man who wakes up chained to a bench in a strange woman’s motorhome. The man quickly realizes his life is literally hanging in the balance as he glimpses the feet of a body dangling lifelessly in the next room. The film stars Ian Lerch as Carson, and Amy Hoerler as his grief-stricken captor Edith.
Edith’s thousand-yard stare, and sorrowful expression makes it obvious she takes no pleasure in the situation. This only raises more questions about whether the body in the other room is another one of her victims, or something else entirely.
The Horse and the Stag’s somber atmosphere looms heavily with Cuartas making the most of his confined quarters. There is a slow push-in shot of the dead body’s feet peeking out of the darkened room behind a billowing curtain that’s particularly unnerving. Carson also begins to notice clues in his surroundings that start to fill in the blanks about what’s really going on.
Cuartas opts to focus on the film’s themes of grief and bullying instead of letting it devolve into a spectacle of violence. Even with only a 10-minute runtime, the short film is executed like the type of subdued, slow burn you’d see in feature-length dramas. The camerawork by Michael Cuartas is steady and lingering, while the low, ominous score by Chris Davies alludes to the quiet turmoil brewing beneath the surface.
The Horse and the Stag would do well setting the mood for a night of heavy drama/thrillers such as Wind River and Hostiles. If you are interested in knowing more about the film, or want to see where it’s playing next, head to their Facebook page right here! Also be sure to check out some of our other recent horror short features, and tune in for Horror Short Sunday every week!