The inspiration for Mike Pecci’s new sci-fi horror short 12 Kilometers came from the writer/director’s worst nightmares as he recovered from a potentially life-threatening head injury.
Following a serious head injury that left the film director with a cracked skull and hematoma, Mike Pecci was plagued by dark nightmares. In his own words: “A creature began to emerge; a black, oily creature. Evil manifest“.
Unlike most people, Pecci chose to embrace his unsettling dreams and has used them as inspiration for his new sci-fi, horror short, 12 Kilometers merged with reported events at the Kola Ultradeep drilling project.
Against the backdrop of mid 1980s Soviet Russia, 12 Kilometers centres on a remote drilling site. Having bored the deepest hole known to man, scientists unwittingly unleash fear itself from the depths of the Earth’s crust.
Pecci clearly hasn’t compromised in any aspect of creating this project. He has embraced innovative physical filming techniques to achieve stunning results and has ultimately produced a horror short unique in a genre rife with cheap rehashes of tired tropes.
Considering the geographical setting, a sense of authenticity is established by the filmmaker’s bold choice to shoot the film with Russian dialogue. English subtitles are unobtrusive and easy to follow as much of the storytelling is visual.
The opening shot of an expansive, snow-covered, desolate landscape sets the scale of the film. And indeed, scale is a key component inherent throughout the course of 12 Kilometers‘ thirty minute runtime. Pecci routinely deceives the viewer by making minute details appear large and cinematic. A fascinating making of featurette, ‘Filming the Monster‘, shows how key elements that create a large impact were literally created on a molecular level.
Actors Ara Woland (Eduard) and Pavel Shatu (Danil) stand out from a strong cast. Both are blessed with a natural, yet differing demeanour on-screen. Shatu presents Danil with an excited, naive nervousness, whilst Woland creates a sense of outward determination that belies trepidation and uncertainty to his portrayal of Eduard.
Visually 12 Kilometers is stunning. Pecci’s a master of lighting, his experience is evident in every shot. Beautiful golden hues contrasted with murky shadows create a sense of depth and space to what is, in reality, a set with limited square footage. The director once again creating an illusion of grand scale.
This is not a film littered with graphic violence. Clever storytelling and the art of suggestion rely on the audience to register tension and suspense through the use of imagination. The perceived threat is infinitely more scary than if it was visualised on-screen.
Pecci’s intention was to create a film reminiscent of classic eighties horror, sci-fi, like John Carpenter’s The Thing. Mission accomplished, but equally the film is finished to such a high standard that it wouldn’t feel out of place in any era.
Whilst with 12 kilometers Mike Pecci accomplishes much more than found in most short films, it does conclude with a sense that the story is far from concluded. This is a half-hour trailer in a sense, for a feature film that needs to be made.
For more information visit 12kilometers.com
Stunning to look at with masterful storytelling that relies on a sense of suggestion over graphic portrayals of violence. Feature film aesthetics from a short film. – 5/5