Director: Alfred Giancarli
Starring: Erin Etheridge, Bec Fordyce, Kevin Reed
Written and directed by Alfread Giancarli, Don’t Despair follows Rachel (Erin Etheridge) and William (Kevin Reed), serial killer memorabilia collectors, who meet up in a dimly lit bar after communicating in an online message board. William sells Rachel a rare piece from his collection, more enthralled by her presence than distraught by the loss, and proceeds to explain the collectible’s significance with admiration. As the two bond over Rachel’s newly acquired art, the scenery changes and the plot takes an interesting twist.
Short films have experienced a boom over the past two decades, bolstered even more as of late by such mainstream collections as V/H/S or The ABCs of Death. The challenge for these quick slices of horror is that time is of the essence. Don’t Despair manages to create interesting characters, sold by the actors’ focused, deliberate dialogue and a sense that something is not quite right below the surface in less than twenty minutes. In addition, solid filming from Alfred Giancarli gives the audience a sharp, raw view of an uncommon, uncomfortable hobby.
I have always been interested in the culture of serial killer obsession, though much of my deterrence from following said interests comes from personal morality more so than a sense of disgust. Don’t get me wrong; I own a handful of oddities and always hunt for new curios to add to my collection. However, Don’t Despair is a film about the human psyche and repressed desires.
What Alfred Giancarli does is allow the uninitiated to catch a glimpse of what happens when collecting and obsession are taken to the extreme and hero worship receives a completely new meaning. The results are unsettling.
If you are not a fan of violence or torture, whether implied or explicit, then this will not be an intriguing catch for you. Don’t Despair is an excellent example of what a creative mind can do with very little and the brief snapshot that viewers spend with the characters is both fascinating and cringe-worthy. Give this a moment of your time if you enjoy digging into the darker side of humanity and can appreciate strolling down the unbeaten path. As the master of the strange H. P. Lovecraft once wrote: “Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places.”