FrightFest 2013: Yellow review

★★★★☆
Pulled into this year's Film4 FrightFest shorts programme at the last minute after impressing the powers that be, Yellow (2012) is a strange, seductive and visually striking short by young director Ryan Haysom. Shot in Berlin, Yellow not only showcases the talent of Haysom and his cinematographer Jon Britt, but also proves that even with a minuscule budget, it's possible to create a high quality product if you have the right equipment and a dash of skill.

The short opens with a nameless man (Stephen M. Gilbert) driving around Berlin with a dour expression on his face. He experiences flashbacks of the murder of an anonymous woman (Hester Arden), who is injected with an unknown substance and subjected to a felonious eye operation. What follows is the nameless man's tour through Berlin in pursuit of the killer, a large and menacing masked figure with a fetish for leather gloves.

Dubbing itself 'neo-giallo', Haysom's film finds itself in good company within this re-emerging genre alongside the likes of Spanish horror Julia's Eyes (2010) and Peter Strickland's FrightFest favourite Berberian Sound Studio (2012). Yellow clearly owes a debt to the likes of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci who, amongst others, popularised giallo - yet it's Michael Mann's Manhunter (1986) which seems to have provided the inspiration for the visuals, especially in regards to lighting and the use of space.

As for the negatives; it's obvious that Haysom had to be barbarous in the editing room and you get the impression an extra ten minutes and more scenes featuring the enshrouded killer would have been beneficial. Arden as the female lead is a genuine shape-shifter and her multiple characters are distinct, but her 'victim' succumbs to the killer far too easily when a little bit of fight would have added to the drama - and avoided the wrath of feminist critics.

All in all, Yellow is clearly the work of a bunch of talented, youthful film-makers on the brink of breaking into the big time. Haysom's short ode to giallo cinema has its flaws, but the potential is there in abundance. With some major backing and an equally impressive budget, the sky's the limit as to what they can achieve.

From 23-27 August, CineVue will be reporting back from this year's Film4 FrightFest with a bucket-load of gruesome reviews. For more of our festival coverage, simply follow this link. 

Lee Cassanell

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