‘Wakener’ Review: There Is No Better Place for Horror Than the Edge of the Cosmos

Wakener short film review
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Cosmic Horror has to be one of my favorite genres. The fear of the unknown has always excited me so much more than what is already here on this plane of existence. H.P. Lovecraft, of course, became the master of the genre, but even he knew that the genre he created could only become bigger and better with the collaboration of others. The Cthulhu Mythos began in this way, and until today, new authors keep adding more and more stories to the archives of the Elder Gods. Wakener is a new short film that basically comes with a strong sense of vision to partake in the ritual of summoning in this fantastic and mysterious genre of science fiction.

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Wakener is a short film written and directed by Anthony Ferraro. The short film stars Rhomeyn Johnson, Nimo Purcell, Sapna Gandhi, Anthony Di Pietro, and Jonathan Castile. The short film tells the story of humanity sometime in the far future. A monitoring station in space detects a mysterious object approaching. Soon they realize that the object is a sort of ancient spaceship, nuclear in nature. When they send someone to investigate, they will find more than they bargained for.

Wakener begins with a very simple setup, which is always the case for this kind of story. Lovecraft and many other authors who have been participants in expanding the Cthulhu Mythos know that for something to be scary in this type of story, it needs to be contrasted with something more mundane.

Lovecraft covered quite a bit of ground with the short story format, and it seems that Anthony Ferraro is also trying to do the same here with Wakener. The short film format allows for the setup and the reveal to work, and it also manages to leave things quite open because sometimes things are better left covered in mystery.

Love, Death, and Robots did something similar to Wakener in their last released volume with the short film “In Vaulted Halls Entombed.” Of course, Love, Death, and Robots manage to translate the story from the page to the screen with impressive CGI visuals.

Wakener cannot do that, but it doesn’t need to. The low-budget production is done with a lot of earnestness, giving the entire short film a lot of charm. Some of the acting is a bit over the top, but this also fits into the entire look and atmosphere of the piece. Sometimes it feels like this sequence could have been part of something like a Doctor Who episode, a show that loves to go into horrific things found in space.

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Of course, in the end, the short film leaves more questions than answers, and the characters are just drawn enough to make them feel like real people. Although, some of the backstory on one of the characters ends up feeling a bit more like filler than anything else. Maybe we didn’t need it, at least not to that extent.

It doesn’t hurt. What is important are the implications of the ancient ship and all the lingering questions that allow us to create our own endings. As such, Wakener might not be a beauty like the Love, Death, and Robots short film, but it manages to achieve its goal of being a short and sweet cosmic horror story.

SCORE: 7/10

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