Place (Sundance)

By Jason Gudasz | Horror
A young woman moves into a new house. But the spirits make her life a living hell.

Looking for a fresh start, Lauren is a single mother who moves in with her daughter Stella and her new boyfriend into a new home in Los Angeles. But their first moments reveal a dead electrician -- an ominous omen if there ever was one.

Despite the dead corpse, the new ad-hoc family unit moves in. But as they adjust to living together -- and occasionally chafe at their new domestic intimacy with one another -- the house reveals its own agenda as it slowly turns each member of the household against one another.

Writer-director Jason Gudasz's offbeat short injects elements of psychological horror into what is essentially an awkward, off-kilter dark comedy about home, belonging and family. Jagged in pacing and editing, it deconstructs the look of an indie family dramedy, as it zigzags between characters and genres, engaging viewers with an accomplished sense of craft and a wry, unique eye for how people can be lonely and isolated, even when they're sharing the same room.

The storytelling is more layered and ambitious than most short films, juggling three separate storylines as each character develops a unique relationship to the house. As the house's paranormal tendencies ramp up -- and are excellently constructed through sound and image, instead of special effects -- the trio grow apart from one another. Instead, each character becomes more enmeshed with the house, often to strange and insular effect (which goes hilariously unregistered by the other characters.)

Visually, the film also echoes this trajectory, deconstructing the look and feel of an indie family dramedy. As the narrative proceeds, the palette darkens and the editing seems to disintegrate into shards, as the story and the characters descend into an almost schizoid mode of behavior.

Lauren and her new family unit become increasingly outlandish and surreal, but it's sold with an excellent ensemble cast who balances the complex performance demands of the story. Each actor has to match the studied, awkward, almost mannerist tone of the storytelling, but they also have to come from a genuine emotional place.

They must register the growing detachment, isolation and even resentment of one another, while still hitting the "WTF" oddness of the film's humor. But when it all comes together -- and the family settles into the configuration that the house, and Lauren, truly desires -- it results in a truly engaging, unexpected experience: one with a genuine freshness in voice, tone and sensibility that entertains but also challenges the audience with original storytelling.

"Place" premiered at Sundance but also made waves at prestigious horror festivals like Fantasia and Fantastic Fest, which demonstrates both the success of its cross-genre pollination and its singularity of voice and vision. Absurdist and sharp, it gently interrogates the notion of the traditional family configuration, and may even have intriguing readings during a time when many of us are home more than ever -- and perhaps confronting the hidden and subsumed dynamics underlying our own lives.

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.