Featured Image for REVERSE: a scary short film about a man trapped in a dark car park
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REVERSE: a scary short film about a man trapped in a dark car park

Not even seatbelts and airbags can save you.

Australian director Josh Tanner is back with another terrifying short film that will keep you up at night – or keep you away from parking garages.

In his five-minute horror film, entitled REVERSE, a man is about to leave an underground car park when his vehicle’s sensors go off. Upon looking at his rearview camera, there’s nothing there – or is it?

With many critics claiming that modern technology – smartphones, mostly – have ruined the Horror genre, Tanner brilliantly defies this with a clever (and eerie) concept about a simple everyday device.

It’s amusing to note that Tanner himself has had nerve-wracking experiences with cars, which led him to make REVERSE. He told Lost At E Minor:

“My co-writer Jade van der Lei began writing the script when I suggested out of the blue the idea of seeing a ghost in a reverse camera. This fused with repeated incidences where our car’s seatbelt alarm would register someone sitting in our passenger seat without anybody sitting there… Spooky!”

In the interview below, Tanner talks more about himself and his brand of Horror. Check it out:

Please tell us a little bit more about yourself. How would you describe your work?

“Based in Brisbane, Australia I’m a writer-director focused on genre cinema (Sci-Fi, Horror, Thriller). My past work includes the 2013 Sci-Fi/Drama short film THE LANDING, which won awards at Sitges, LA Shorts Fest, Cleveland and Screamfest to name a few.

“I’ve also made several other shorts including the 2017 Hollyshorts Best Horror Award winner WANDERING SOUL and this year’s Huluween Film Festival short THE RIZZLE. I am working my way towards my first feature and recently served as Kriv Stenders’ Directors Attachment and Splinter Unit director for his ANZAC Vietnam War film DANGER CLOSE.”

Reverse by Josh Tanner

Where did you get the idea for REVERSE?

“My co-writer Jade van der Lei began writing the script when I suggested out of the blue the idea of seeing a ghost in a reverse camera. This fused with repeated incidences where our car’s seatbelt alarm would register someone sitting in our passenger seat without anybody sitting there… Spooky!”

Your short film gave us goosebumps! Could you tell us more about the creative process behind it?

“With my previous short films, the tension and creepiness were always born out of the stories being set in the past and using the past’s inherent creepiness. REVERSE was a really fantastic exercise for me to craft a suspenseful story that was modern and completely leant into current technology to build the chills.

“To really feel confident that it was going to work, I created an animatic, which was an edited sequence of storyboard images to music and sound effects to nail down the pacing and shots. Once I did that and showed it to a few people, I knew we had something that was going to freak an audience out!”

Reverse by Josh Tanner

What would you say are the keys to making a tension-filled horror?

“Pacing is everything for horror and not showing your hand until the very last moment possible. A mantra I repeatedly use is that there is nothing you can show an audience that is scarier than the monster they’ll create in their mind. A good horror film will embrace this and let an audience expect the worse.

“Our toolkit was a combination of lingering shots, cutaways to buzzing lights and a cracking sound design from Thom Kellar and Lachlan Harris and chilling musical score from Stevan Markovic to build atmosphere and dread.”

Out of curiosity, where’d you manage to find a completely empty parking garage to shoot in?

“West End Coles! It necessitated an all-nighter shoot to get the car-park empty which made it an intense, run-and-gun shoot, but my cinematographer Kieran Fowler NZCS ACS was such an amazing collaborator in making sure we streamlined our shots and got everything we needed by the night’s end, with no compromise to the excellent look of the finished film.”

Reverse by Josh Tanner

And finally, what’s next for you?

“With REVERSE dropping online I’ve received great exposure and interest. I was lucky to sign with one of Hollywood’s largest talent agencies off this film and am currently figuring out what the path to my first feature film could be. In particular, I’ve been recently developing a feature film version of my horror short WANDERING SOUL, a Vietnam War-set Supernatural Horror, which I am incredibly excited to make here in Queensland, Australia.”

You can learn more about Josh Tanner and his work here.

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