Wandering Soul

By Josh Tanner | Horror
A Vietnamese soldier is haunted by the ghost of a fallen comrade.

Dao, a Viet Cong soldier, is stationed deep in the dark of the Cu Chi tunnels during the Vietnam war in 1966, where he has to bury one of his fallen comrades in combat. The tunnels are dark and claustrophobic, and the soldier is isolated.

When another soldier named Quan comes to retrieve him, Dao refuses, insisting he must finish burying and praying for the soldier, or else his ghost will come after them. Dao is left behind, with the Americans due to swarm the area at any moment. But as the eerie sounds of the dead begin to fill the air, Dao realizes too late that he should've left the tunnels.

Writer-director Josh Tanner, along with co-writer Jade Van Der Lei, has crafted a supernatural horror short that practices an elegant economy on many levels, from the pared-down, claustrophobic setting to the compressed scale of the narrative. But within its 12 minutes, it wrenches an intense, vivid tension and fear from its evocation of the supernatural, all while illuminating a forgotten chapter of a military conflict that still haunts contemporary events today.

Making a film shot in a tunnel visually dynamic is no easy feat, but through judicious but moody lighting and excellently calibrated editing, the craftsmanship pulls viewers along, establishing the clashing senses of urgency that power the film's momentum: Dao believes he must pray over his fallen comrade or else his soul will haunt him, but they also must evacuate the tunnels quickly.

The writing is equally smart, precise and lean, beginning in just the right place and building the central questions that concern the narrative: are there are indeed wandering souls, and will Dao and Quan escape them?

After an effective build-up, the film then pivots seamlessly into horror mode, crafting effectively creepy chills and thrills while ratcheting up the pace and intensity. Actor Lap Phan as Dao plays his character's agitation with just the right amount of edginess to make viewers question whether or not he's unhinged and therefore imagining everything -- a slight frisson of uncertainty that the storytelling spins into a stunning resolution.

"Wandering Soul" takes its central idea and name from a real-life operation in the Vietnam War. To say anything more would be to give away the film's powerful reveal, but suffice it to say that it functions not just as a great twist, but an uneasy, resonant commentary on the wages of war, not just physically but psychologically. Its ending haunts like the ghosts that Dao hears in the tunnels -- and won't easily be shaken from the psyche until well after viewing.

You Might Also Like:


By Oliver Goodrum | Drama
A man who bullied a disabled girl tries to escape his past. Then an angry mob finds him.


By Candice Carella | Drama
A single mother leaves her young daughter with a rock musician uncle.


By Richard Prendergast | Drama
A single mother takes her family on a road trip. But it's to an unwanted destination.

Second Best

By Alyssa McClelland | Comedy
Twin sisters turn into rivals when one's gymnastics career steals the spotlight.

No More Wings

By Abraham Adeyemi | Drama
2 friends meet at their favorite fried chicken shop. But their lives have diverged.


By Gokalp Gonen | Animation
A man is trapped on a spaceship after his robot overseer finds every planet uninhabitable.

Feeling Through (Oscars)

By Doug Roland | Drama
A homeless teen meets a deaf-blind man who changes his life forever...


By Hadley Hillel | Drama
A man's suicide attempt rips a hole in the ceiling. Then he befriends the boy upstairs.

Dig Your Own Grave

By Kirk Larsen | Comedy
A man is forced to dig his own grave in the desert. But the ground is hard.

Call Connect

By Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell | Drama
A young helpline operator takes her first call and gets more than she expected.

More Than God

By Kev Cahill | Comedy
A devoted husband suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then he hides under the bed.

Welcome to Iron Knob

By Dave Wade | Comedy
A young boy accidentally shoots a stranger and the town tries to cover it up.


By Erika Davis-Marsh | Romance
A young dancer falls for a deaf guy, then tries to find her place in the world.

Toni With an I

By Marco Alessi | Drama
An awkward girl doesn't fit in at school. Then the Internet comes to save her.

The Things You Think I'm Thinking

By Sherren Lee | Drama
A burn-survivor goes on his first date after his accident.

Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening.
That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady
stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.