In this short, we follow a shipwrecked sailor’s ambiguously dark descent into his mind. Washed up ashore amid a squall as a result of a smouldering shipwreck, the sailor seeks refuge in a small house atop a hill, one that promises a place of solace for him to recover and wait out the storm. Or so he thinks. But flickering lights and footsteps in the dark send him scurrying, leading him to uncover the house’s truth.
Written and directed by Ben Harper, Sean Mullen and Alex Sherwood and produced by Daniel Spencer, Geist stands as a well-done exploration of the thriller genre, delving into dark and more graphic content than typically expected from animations. Gaining power in this unexpected contrast, Geist perfectly plays the emotions of the viewer, bringing us into each creak, jump and frantic search.
Notable for its development of tension and suspense, Geist plays with the lines between reality, hallucination and flashback to create intrigue. The animation style of the piece emphasises the gap between reality and illusion, allowing a blurring of what is real and what is imagined. The animation itself is masterfully done, adding depth and implied internal conversation to a largely dialogue-free short.
The sound design, though sparse, is all the more powerful because of it. The sound is largely motivated by the environment rather than the characters, forcing the protagonist to react to the world around him rather than give him the power to shape his environment himself. This adds to the overall feeling of confusion and powerlessness in the face of the sailor’s circumstances, which reveal themselves throughout the film.
Departing from a traditional plotline, Geist creates a world of hope, confusion, loss, resulting in a beautiful and deeply emotional short film, well worth watching. Showered with a host of accolades, Geist has been awarded Best Animation Sequence at the Galway Film Fleadh (2015) and Best Cinematography Accolade at Sparks Vancouver (2015) among many other accreditations.