Short Series Review: The Look-See.

The Look-See

We return to CryptTV to check out their horror short anthology and creepy monster, The Look-See.

Continuing our October look at anthologies, I decided to dip back into CryptTV one more time. Their short, The Birch, was technically strong, though it lacked depth. The adaptation of that short into a series also struggled to find a substantial identity to build upon the visual appeal of the series featured creature. I wondered if CryptTV’s other popular monster, The Look-See, would deliver the goods.

The Look-See is the title and titular monster of a series of short films all united by a common theme and creature. The shorts vary in length and impact, but all stay on message while delivering interesting ideas.

Seems like a good jumping off point.

The Look-See (Season 1).

A ghoulish apparition with long, clawed fingers, no eyes or nose, and a dapper three piece suit presides over the films. His victims all are haunted by something they cannot let go: a personal loss, a failed marriage, a community tragedy. The Look-See leaves them a note that they will have to give up that trauma or lose a piece of themselves…physically, to him.

Seems more like a dirty limerick than a threat.

Sharp Design.

The design for the series antagonist is effective. The rubbery quality of the face prosthesis hides in plain sight thanks to his other oddities. Razor teeth, scars on his face and neck, all leading they eye downwards to the odd, stylish menswear, until you finally arrive at his hands.

The Look-See
He must have a devil of a time doing up the buttons on those cuffs.

His hands again hide their budget constraints with elan. He wears the flimsy woolen finger-less gloves you usually associate with very young children or the homeless. From these eccentric accessories sprout insectile fingers topped with long, black talons. His fingers seem to grow right out of the gloves (which of course necessitates the gloves to hide the practical effects.) The whole is a fine demonstration of making technical weaknesses into strengths with smart design decisions.

A Lot from a Little.

Just like our monster, the narratives adeptly build their stories from telling details. There’s virtually no dialogue and rarely any more text than the creepy note left by the creature. Instead, we get adroit hints scattered about, usually building upon ideas from previous shorts.

The Look-See is also helped by the use of both archetypes and cultural touchstones. The first short features a police woman picking up the body markers from a school massacre. The obituary says mass poisoning, but the arrangement is pretty obviously drawing parallels to a school shooting. This episode incidentally hints at a triangle between three of the parents involved. Each has a vignette later. The inclusion of them into a short that doesn’t go on to involve them sets up that the community is rife with problems festering under the surface.

This town has got issues.

By employing easily recognizable situations and well positioned clues, we get more psychological immediacy. Even when the set-up seems obvious, you have to draw inferences that engage your interest in the plot. It’s a nice bit of restraint for a series with 4 minutes a go to get your attention.

Rules of the Game.

Peek-a-boo.

I enjoyed The Look-See. It shares ideas with other cryptic movie monsters like Pinhead or the Jigsaw killer from the SAW franchise. There is an internal logic to the situation, hidden lightly under theatrics or monstrosity. The directors make the most of their time and budget by always being oblique. So much of the tension of the piece is driven my the barely glimpsed monster, his wing-tip shoes visible from where his victim hides, or his fingers curling around the door frame when they are not looking.

The atmosphere is Lovecraftian, of horror roiling under the surface of our shabby world. When the violence strikes, we get some effective body horror. It is all tied up in personal tales of tragedy. I would suggest watching the series in the super-cut version, as the transitions between vignettes often turn on the final visual of the last story being the first of the next and the CryptTV website is not very clear about episode order. The whole batch hang together and creates a delightfully baroque house of horrors.

The Look-See
See you around.
About Neil Worcester 1184 Articles
Neil Worcester is currently a freelance writer and editor based in the Portland, Maine area. He has developed a variety of content for blogs and businesses, and his current focus is on media and food blogging. Follow him on Facebook and Google+!

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