North Carolina filmmaker Jesse H. Knight (Orbs: They Are Among Us) returns with Hybrid, the latest release from JK Films and part of the upcoming Beneath the Old Dark House anthology.
Sticking with his signature dark science fiction style that worked so well on Orbs, and matching the overarching suspense theme of its anthology, this short film should fit right in on Beneath the Old Dark House alongside such other shorts as Between Hell and a Hard Place (which was included in my ‘5 Great Short Films You’ve Probably Never Seen’ piece over at Cinema Slasher) once the highly anticipated anthology finally sees its release. But how does Hybrid measure up as a standalone short film? Read on to find out!
Set in the Appalachian Mountains in Banner Elk, North Carolina, the film opens with a team of biogenetic scientists at a top-secret government facility who have successfully engineered a part-human, part-alien hybrid creature (played by Lucky Mangione of Goosebumps and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2). After the creature escapes the underground facility, the government dispatches a highly-trained military assassin (played by Jaclyn Helms of River Guard) to quietly contain the incident by eliminating the unnatural being. Meanwhile, government agent Eric Randleman (played by Scott Tepperman of Ghost Hunters International) has been being haunted by bizarre telepathic messages that he’s been hearing since the creature escaped. Could they be related to the strange hybrid creature? Is he just going insane? What will happen next? You’ll just have to watch and find out (or should I say, try to figure out) for yourselves!
On the technical side of things, this is a highly ambitious effort from Jesse H. Knight, who pulls quadruple duty serving as writer, director, editor, and executive producer on this film. Cinematographer Jason Ledford does an absolutely stellar job on camera, capturing some absolutely beautiful shots, some of which are downright mind-blowing for an independent film, particularly the aerial shots of the Blue Ridge Parkway area. Of course, shooting in an area as breathtaking as the Western North Carolina definitely doesn’t hurt matters at all. Composer Brad Hord does an excellent job with the original score, which was complimented by some very nice sound work – something that so often gets overlooked/pushed aside in indpendent films, yet can really be the “make or break” of any production, and absolutely delivers here.
On the other hand, the editing was a bit too rapid-fire at times, particularly near the beginning of the film, the lighting left much to be desired, and (whether intentional or not) the plot felt somewhat rushed-through and a bit difficult to follow at times. That being said, this was an earlier cut and all of that may well be corrected by the time this short film sees its final anthology destination. I for one very much hope these are indeed corrected, as the story and potential are absolutely there, and the cast does an excellent job of delivering believable and enjoyable performances.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Hybrid is a very enjoyable sci-fi short that harkens back to the 1990s era Outer Limits series with a more modern look. It’s a tense, mindbending thrill ride that will make you want to re-watch it just to make sure you didn’t miss anything. While not perfect, nor Knight’s best work, it’s still a very good short film with a very impressive cast for an independent release. Definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re into serious science fiction and suspense. – 7.0/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine