A woman remains home alone for the foreseeable future, as her sons move out of the house. She cooks some dinner, watches TV, and eventually heads off to bed. However, she is awakened in the middle of the night by strange sounds coming from other rooms of her house. She nods off back to sleep, but once she is awakened a second time, she knows that something is amiss.
'Empty Nester' is a psychological horror more than anything else – thankfully, it doesn’t rely too much on cheap gimmicks such as jump scares in order to push its agenda. Instead, it builds its tension in a style reminiscent of both Hitchcock and Lynch. The former’s influence can be mostly seen in how shots are framed, how the distance between the camera and the character plays a part in setting the mood, and how details about the environment can be inferred. The latter’s influence can mostly be seen in terms of sound design – an ominous, monotonous beat accompanies proceeds from the get-go and occasionally spins into a crescendo of tension, which preserves and amplifies the uneasy atmosphere.
It’s all about the visuals and sound design since the story doesn’t really wow the audience with anything special. The plot pretty much mirrors the one of a famous short film, 'Lights Out', and bears similarity with many others, the differences being only in very minute details. The nature of the dark figure (supernatural being, real person, imagination due to loneliness, something else) is not explored at all, which is fine, but ends up being a little random. We prefer the loneliness interpretation since it does relate to most of the other plot points mentioned in the exposition.
For this short film, the best part lies in its visual style and execution – it’s quite an enthralling ride, milked to its last drop of potential, using very basic equipment. All in all, it’s a very impressive result, one which we definitely enjoyed watching and would warmly recommend to fans of the genre.