Director: Chase Michael Pallante
Starring: Janet Miranda, Jason Torres, Shanae Harris

A review by Anelise Farris

Defarious is an independent short horror film (around 10 minutes) that has won an impressive amount of awards.  Defarious, directed by Chase Michael Pallante (owner of Rhythm and Flower Entertainment), and it stars only three cast members: Janet Miranda, Jason Torres, and Shanae Harris. Although Defarious has a short runtime and small cast-size, this film manages to haunt long after the (what seem like an exceptionally long) few minutes are over.

According to the film’s website,

“This multi-award-winning independent short horror film is about this young woman named Amy and her horrific nightmares that are beginning to manifest again so strongly she is disillusioned between her world of imagination and what is truly reality.

The film questions the difference in opinions of medical punishment within our world of diagnosed individuals who suffer from sleep paralysis and in a world of what many other people believe to be spiritual manipulation. An inspiration from childhood fears, this 80’s tone film brings back the old feel and new sound of what scares you the most!”

Admittedly I read this plot summary before watching the film. As someone with a deep interest in the folklore surrounding sleep paralysis, watching Defarious was a no-brainer. The film has all of the traditional horror elements. Owl hooting, dark house, faint blue glow, glass shattering, etc,—which is, of course, delightful to a horror veteran. But, the premise of Defarious, and how it is executed, is what makes it really stand out.  I’ve watched numerous documentaries and read several articles about sleep paralysis. I was totally surprised (in a good way!) about the direction this film took.

When it begins, you witness a girl wake up, horrified, after feeling a presence hovering over her. What follows is a dream-like series of events in which the girl wanders around her home, pursued by this presence. The brilliance of Defarious is, as the above plot summary describes, that you don’t know what’s real or not. But, you feel her horror just the same. The moments of silence and the use of music at just the right parts infuse the film with a feeling of heaviness, suffocation, and fear. Just like a person with sleep paralysis might feel. Finally, while a lot of people describe the presence they feel during sleep paralysis as an “old hag.”  There is no “old hag” here. Instead, we witness a simple, though entirely sinister, embodiment of a figure that will linger with me for quite some time.

Verdict: Watch it!

Defarious uses 10 minutes to its fullest potential. It’s a chilling film with a talented cast, and I highly recommend watching it with a friend (or five).

Anelise Farris
I'm a doctor that specializes in folklore and mythology, speculative fiction, and disability studies. Basically, I'm a professional geek. When not researching or teaching, I read; I write; I yoga; I travel; I play with my fur babies; and, I watch way too many (if that's a thing) horror movies.

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