It’s not easy to tell a successfully suspenseful mystery film that will surprise and shock viewers now accustomed to twists and turns made ever so abundant post Sixth Sense. It’s even tougher to tell a masterful mystery in roughly fifteen minutes that proves to be a gripping and frightening piece that had me on the edge of my computer chair due to a tense horrific ending that rivaled Bill Paxton’s film Frailty in its ability to shock. However, writer/director Nick Childs proves to be a natural with this material, based upon a novel by Steve Hamilton, that stars David Strathairn as a likable man named Paul Mullin, who as the film opens is sitting outside in his wooded home in the middle of the night when a sound stirs him from his solitude. He investigates the noise only to discover his neighbor Hank (Neal Huff) digging a hole in the middle of the night with a shovel he’d borrowed from Paul months earlier. The more the two men talk, the more the viewer as well as Paul realize that something suspicious is going on. A few days later, a visit by police officers to the spot of the dig confirms our worst fears and then the story gets even more complicated. Winner of nine short film awards from festivals ranging from the ones held in Newport Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Tribeca, and Woodstock among others, Childs’s The Shovel is one of the most unsettling, yet pitch perfect creepy intrigues to come along in quite some time and will instantly attract fans of Stephen King. Check out the high quality transfer of the short made available from iTunes.
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