“When I was little, my mom used to read these stories to me and my brother, like these old folk tales. One of them was about this man who was so alone, so angry that he turned himself into a monster.”
A chilling allegory about repression, loneliness and coming out, writer-director Kenya Gillespie’s Jeremiah packs some serious suspense into its short nine-minute running time.
At the start of the film, we meet the title character, Jeremiah (Alan Trong), sitting alone on the bleechers, surrounded by both a literal and figurative darkness that threatens to engulf him. An attractive high school football player, he’s reeling from an unfortunate and unexplained encounter with his coach. His equally cute friend and teammate seeks to console him, but there is a mysterious masked figure lurking in the background which forces Jeremiah to look deeper at the true cause of his fears.
Jeremiah is Kenya Gillespie’s narrative short film debut and it shows incredible promise. With spare, careful cinematography and a string-heavy soundtrack that sends chills down your spine, you can easily imagine him expanding Jeremiah into an “elevated horror” feature on par with Hereditary or It Follows.
The film received its international premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival where it was nominated for the short film Queer Palm. Gillespie was also nominated for the 2019 Kodak Excellence in the Craft of Filmmaking Award. His documentary short The Crystal City and narrative short Pray for Dottie were winners of the 2018 and 2019 RTF Longhorn Denius Student Showcase at SXSW.