Photalgia – By Michael McCallumShort Film Review

An older artist is affected by a strange light at his studio that drives him to do dark things.

Director Michael McCallum utilized minimalism in Photalgia to bring us into his dark, thrilling vision. The older artist “The Shadow” – is consumed by an inexplicable calling to this odd, somehow mesmerizing light. We as the audience feel the peculiar tension in the scenes showcasing this light, and it certainly brings us in immediately. 


The contrasty, slow and deliberate cinematography mixed with the control of the pacing by McCallum effectively manages to create an atmosphere that works perfectly in context to the “perspective” of our lead character. Beyond that, the idea of this all being “for art” and within the world of art makes it all the more imaginative and wonderful.

The use of high-contrast black and white is well-used in order to make things further bleaker and more intense in context. The film manages to hold a mysterious beauty visually, which constantly keeps our eyes glued to the screen.

The performances by both William C. McCallum and Michael McCallum are great, which is what really allows this whole film to work. William has this believable, trustable demeanor that makes it all the more disturbing when reality strikes. He plays into this faith-based darkness well in all the best, most terrifying ways!


The film has a creative, controlled cinematography style across it, which further brings the tone alive. The way these off-center shots showcase the basement bring us into that space and display it both interestingly and engagingly. Of course, the same goes for all the shots focusing on our two disturbed characters.


Overall, Photalgia is a lovely film with a well-maintained tone. Director Michael McCallum has an understanding for pacing and deliberate narrative control, and it works to execute this story effectively. The beautiful cinematography and performances within the film bring it all full circle, resulting in a wonderful short horror film. 

We very much look forward to seeing where Michael McCallum goes next!




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