The Short List: “Fear Wish”

The Short List: "Fear Wish" (2020, dir. Todd Spence, Zak White)

The horror genre is a gift. It’s one that this writer holds dearly, but more so, I imagine, by filmmakers wanting to leave their mark.

Last year saw two of the most interesting filmmakers working on its boundaries: Ari Aster, whose Midsommar painted through Nordic folk tales a grueling picture of modern neuroses of our youth; and Robert Eggers, whose The Lighthouse offered in stark monochromatic beauty the frailties of the human mind.

Though operating at a smaller scale, filmmaking duo Todd Spence and Zak White have been at work churning out short horror films. The latest in their series of bite-sized terrors is a three-minute heart-drop called Fear Wish.

The Short List: "Fear Wish" (2020, dir. Todd Spence, Zak White)

The setup is ruthlessly minimal: a man named Rich (Nathan Sutton) is on the phone with a friend, who walks him through his participation to a “fear wish”. On the third flicker of his flashlight, a stack of cash appears before him. He is to use the money for his ailing wife, who’s due to undergo an expensive medical procedure.

Now that he had gotten his wish, as his friend Mike (Scott Whyte) explains, he has to endure any fear he will conjure. “In order to wish for something you need, you gotta wish for something you fear,” he continues.

This is where things pick up. Armed with only the same mysterious flashlight, Rich begins to survey the darkness of his room, helplessly awaiting for what terrifying creation he might have called on.

The Short List: "Fear Wish" (2020, dir. Todd Spence, Zak White)

All this is demonstrative of Spence and White’s understanding of the trappings of the genre, as equally as impressive as that displayed in Josh Tanner’s Reverse, which we’ve previously featured here.

The result is an astounding piece of work, undeterred by meager resources. What’s more, Spence and White produce short films almost routinely under their Midnight Video banner, with other viable titles such as Your Date is Here and Mikus.


The Short List is our running list of noteworthy short features available online. Each week, we recommend a short film worth watching. Click here to see the full list of short films—you can also submit your own.

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