Elise's Nightmare is a about a woman home alone who is terrified by a supernatural entity that is interested in more than a routine haunting. The premise is direct due to its shortened nature of just under three and a half minutes. Originally, it was an exercise for a class about directing, writer/director Parker Brennon took while a student at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
The simple question of what scares or has scared you is the one of the best beginnings in what could be a remarkable viewing experience. "I thought I heard a voice in my apartment one night. It was brief but chilling," Parker told me. "I remembered reading that schizophrenia often sets in during early adulthood. I tried to imagine how terrifying it could be. Thankfully, I didn't hear any more voices, but I was inspired to write."
The woman that would become Elise in Parker's story is Monisha Harmon, an actress who lives in Sacramento whom Parker was so immediately impressed by, he was almost too struck to even offer her the role. But he did, and talks enthusiastically about working with her. "During the day of production, I was caught off guard by Monisha's natural talent. Most of the direction I gave her was just blocking. She was so skilled at keeping the stakes high and reacting believably on her own. I felt like I was working with a genuine pro."
Parker is one of the creative movers truly invested in genre narratives that give women characters an intrinsic wholeness that transcends caricature. Additionally, the Ohio native makes certain that he surrounds himself with a crew where he's the minority, which is a refreshing sense of hope and sensibility towards a focus on no-budget, independent filmmakers who are taking the empowerment of us all in front and behind the camera seriously. These are the kind of filmmakers I want to see become major influencers in the broader entertainment industry.
Elise's Nightmare is tension-filled with some great twists for such a brief study into a woman grappling with supernatural forces. It is satisfying and impressive how much Parker is able to put in this short that arouses sympathy for Elise and truly delivers as a horror film.
Check out the teaser for Elise's Nightmare below:
Monisha Harmon as Elise
Maria Chiara Venturini as The Ghost