Directed by Andrea Ricca and written by lead and only star Ludovica Ferraro, a young woman encounters an ancient amulet which has the ability to conjure up the fears of whoever has possession of it.
Coming in with a 5-minute run time and zero dialogue, it’s undeniable that The Amulet of Fear dedicates its focus to its horror element, specifically the creature which our unnamed leading lady accidentally conjures. It’s not often a short film such as this really goes flat out to create a CGI monster so it’s a nice change of pace to see it here, of course don’t get twisted and expect Disney level creations here that’s another planet of budgets. It feels very familiar to the creations of the horror world, it doesn’t look out of place at all, in fact it’s rather impressive and hits all the right notes for a nightmarish monster, just relative enough to human but no eyes and way too many teeth. It almost feels reminiscent of something you might find among Resident Evil’s never-ending list of beasts.
Outside of that, there isn’t a huge amount to dive into, the creature is conjured and the victim fights back, there’s not really much else to it, we don’t learn much of anything about the lead or how the amulet, or the object she finds it in, came to be in her possession. It’s a shame they didn’t use a fraction of that time to round things out a bit more, give us just a tiny background for the protagonist so that we have a stronger reason to root for her. Towards the end there’s a brief note of comedy and it would have been great to see that come through more consistently, adding a playful edge could have helped with the limited story, potentially helping offset that style of being straight to the point. Also, given that the idea is for the creature to have been created by the reader’s fear of the book, there isn’t enough of a pause on its cover to make the connection clear, if a person were to go into the film with no knowledge of it, they could miss that, until it’s emphasised again at the end.
It was a strange choice to make the colour palette muted, you can find it in a number of horror films but it’s very rarely effective in the sense they’re aiming for, it makes things feel more drab rather than giving off a dark atmosphere. There’s also a couple of details that were missed, for instance when pointing the gun, the angle is much lower than the resulting shot, not taking into account the position or comparative size of the monster. It’s something quite nominal but those missing touches can become distracting when you’re working with a short film, it makes them more noticeable.
In the end, it feels like we’re jumping into a story half way through, we don’t know who she is, why she’s there, where the amulet came from, which restricts you from getting invested enough in the story. The concept is well done but it runs through quite quickly and becomes simply a fight scene between a woman and a monster, which simply doesn’t have enough of a standout style or edge to be sufficient on its own. The CGI work is great and the look of the creature is perfectly fitting for the concept but with that being the sole focus of the story, it leaves room for little else and can’t fulfil the potential for a satisfying story.