Dan Wilder’s ‘Mercury Screams’ (2018) Horror Short Review

I absolutely love horror shorts. They’re like bite-sized chunks of terror that deliver a pitiless punch in just a fraction of the time a full length genre film. But, because of their short time frame, the filmmaker is usually limited as to what they can actually touch upon. However, in Filmmaker Dan Wilder’s directorial debut, Mercury Screams, there’s much more going on than just a simple one note story, despite its short length. Did this multi-plot device work for the short or turn it into a confusing mess? Read on to find out!

Mercury Screams was written, produced and directed by Dan Wilder (Horndogs Beach Party 2018). The cast includes newcomers Sarah Zimmer and Vic Sage, along with Wayne W. Johnson (Mohawk 2017), Roderick Klimek (The Last Frankenstein 2018), Seth Chatfield (Blood of the Tribades 2016), and Tommie Vegas (Party Night 2017). JB Sapienza edited and co-produced the project, and also composed the score while Cinematographer Jon Caron shot the film. Both were involved in My Name Is Jonah (2014). Not only did Wilder write, edit and produce the film, but he also designed the infamous demon creature, which was built by Jared Balog (Cryptid 2013)

Mercury Screams’ synopsis:

A young couple dealing with tragedy encounter an otherworldly evil.

What Works

I love that the title of this short – Mercury Screams – refers to the sound that frozen liquid mercury makes when you bend it. Just one little nod like that shows how deeply a filmmaker has thought about his project and its multiple meanings. I was shocked when I realized that the demon had appeared at the top of the balcony, off center and in the background. As the camera focused on the character directly in front of it, his appearance was secondary and I had no idea how long he had been there. It was creepy as hell. Although the short is focused on this one broken couple, the result of what the demon does to Gretchen (Zimmer) will have a worldwide ramifications. The miscarriage aspect is horrifying enough in itself. This couple has nothing. They’ve just moved into this house, and they don’t even have a table to eat at. They barely tolerated each other, not hugging or grieving together like a healthy couple would. Instead, they were angry and distant, both suffering in their own ways. They’re barely holding it together. Gretchen’s despair over her lost baby and loneliness from her husband leaving her to grieve are what left her so open to the visit from the demon.

Once Herd (Johnson) goes to bed and Gretchen is alone, the rest of the short is like a razor-sliced fever dream. The neon colors, smoke, mirrors and off-screen voices were like something out of a Dario Argento film. I won’t tell you what happens when the demon comes, but let me just say that the result is much bigger than the four walls of this couple’s house. The evil of what the demon did to her, and the repercussions for the rest of the world, is what makes Mercury Screams such a sadistic and truly terrifying short. It ends on a cliffhanger, with a woman (Vegas), off screen, talking about something that seems irrelevant but may just be a clue as to what the sequel will be about. I’m absolutely dying to know what happens next.

What Didn’t Work

I have to admit, the acting in Mercury Screams was a bit lacking. I expected a better performance from Wayne W. Johnson, who has had quite a few meaty roles in other films like Mohawk (2017), Night of Something Strange (2016) and Tales of Dracula (2015). So, that was a bit disappointing. I love that the short ended on a cliffhanger, but I do wish that the story itself would have been extended and that at least a few of the questions I had had in the beginning had been answered. Of course, a sequel would clear things up a bit, so here’s to hoping (hint, hint!).

Final Thoughts

I truly did enjoy Mercury Screams, and I’m not just blowing smoke when I say I can’t wait to see what happens next. If and when a sequel does come out from the twisted mind of Dan Wilder, you can be sure that we will let you know all the details.

For regular updates on Mercury Screams, follow the official Facebook page and keep checking back here at PopHorror for all of your horror news, reviews and interviews!

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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