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Review: Philip Hardy’s Who’s That at the Back of the Bus (Lights Out Meets Donnie Darko)

Watch It Inside!

Imagine you’re on a double-decker public bus speeding down the highway. It’s late, dark and the only other person on the bus is a passed out twenty-something year old with vomit all over his shirt. As you take a seat, you notice an odd reflection in the window. You turn, and nothing’s there. However, with every mile and every lamp post passed, the creepy reflection grows closer and closer. Is it your tired, over-active imagination, or is something truly at the back of the bus? That’s basically the plot of this short film, Who’s That at the Back of the Bus, written and directed by Philip Hardy. Having premiered at Frightfest UK and having played at over fourteen film festivals around the world, this five minute short film is now available for your viewing pleasure. I’ve included it at the bottom of this review for all to see.

The best way I can describe Who’s That at the Back of the Bus is Lights Out meets Donnie Darko. It’s the way that an ominous figure appears and reappears, only when situations are challenged, and how a mysterious entity is represented by an animal. And while writer/director Philip Hardy states that his short film is somewhat a proof of concept piece, I can also find deeper meaning in the themes and subtext. To start, the woman (played by Susan Barham) and the drunk man (played by Richard James-Neale) taking the bus could signify some sort of social/economic issue. While it’s good that the drunk isn’t driving his own vehicle, one can only wonder why he didn’t call a cab and why doesn’t the woman have her own car? Is the haunting figure on the bus meant to represent how the world is seemingly always preying on the lower-middle class? Stylistically and cinematically, I also noticed that the speed of the bus and the intensity of the music grows as the predator stalks the woman. It obviously represents the adrenaline rush we all feel when we’re in danger. Who’s That at the Back of the Bus has a lot to offer if you really want to examine a film from all areas.

Shot under Art Omnivores LLC and produced by Syd Heather, Who’s That at the Back of the Bus is nothing short of horror fun. It contains cinematography from Arran Green, editing from Florence Beam, and animal design/puppetry from Christopher Barlow. And it even contains a genuine jump scare. It’s well produced, paced to perfection, and certainly capable of a feature length adaption. 2019 is starting off with a bang thanks to Who’s That at the Back of the Bus, and I highly encourage you to watch it at the link below. It’s suspenseful, creepy and perfect for the modern generation of horror fans.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)