[BITS 2018 Review] 'The Whistler' Is A Haunting Tale That Deserves An Expansion

Dark folklore meets babysitter horror in Jennifer Nicole Stang's new short film The Whistler. Offering up a chilling and intriguing spin on the Pied Piper, Stang has crafted a creepy little tale that deserves a feature film expansion.

The film begins with Lindsey (Karis Cameron) being forced by her parents to babysit her younger sister Becky (Baya Ipatowicz). Once Becky's bedtime rolls around, she asks her older sis to read her a story. After reading a watered down, child-friendly version of a local legend, Lindsey opts to tell the "true" story of the man who led 130 virgins to their deaths and vowed to return before being put to death by the townspeople. Becky is sent to bed and Lindsey falls asleep shortly after. Waking in the middle of the night, Lindsey discovers that her sister is missing and she proceeds into the forest in search of her.

Most horror fans will know the direction in which the story takes but I don’t want to give too many more details. I'll just say that the film succeeds in creating an eerie atmosphere that's full of tension. Right from the start, I was enthralled by Naim Sutherland’s cinematography. The Whistler is filmed both beautifully and creatively, with Emmett Lee Stang’s score further heightening the film's haunting aesthetic.

Cameron and Ipatowicz deliver very believable performances as sisters, which add another layer of authenticity to the film. Makeup effects artist Chantal Ratcliffe did a wonderful job with the titular character, creating a simple but scary villain that deserves further exploration.

Overall, Stang shows true potential with The Whistler, it's a well-acted, atmospheric and entertaining short. Though the ending may leave some desiring more, I have no doubt that the story would benefit from a full-length feature.

The Whistler screens tonight, November 25th, at the The Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival, 9:30pm at The Royal Cinema in Toronto.


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