Finger: A Masterclass in Short Filmmaking

Over the past several years, short films have grown in popularity, some of which have even become household names.  Horror seems to be particularly compatible with short form storytelling, as we’ve seen with hits like Lights Out, The Hidebehind, Terrifier and more.  A fresh, new masterclass in short horror film came with the release of Finger in 2022. You can watch the full thing above!

Acclaim for Finger

The film was released by I’m The Villain Films in 2022, and saw great critical acclaim.  It’s been nominated for a whopping 22 awards and has taken home 12 across the US and abroad.  Some of these include Best Horror Short, Coolest Scene, and Best Original Concept.  Finger was written and directed by Joe Lueben.  Riley Rose Crithclow and Travis Dowling wrote the screenplay alongside Lueben. Their writing created a strong backbone that allowed the rest of film to flourish.

Stand Out Components

Throughout the film, each aspect of mis en scene is firing on all cylinders.  Firstly, the sound design grabs the audiences’ ear immediately.  They created an awesome and eerie juxtaposition of soft sounds like chimes or wind, and sudden, loud noises like the chopping of wood or the slamming of doors.  The score for Finger backs up this previous element with spooky harmonization and off kilter instrumental swells to unnerve viewers from the start.  Visually, the set, costumes, and lighting work cohesively to create an environment that is real yet dramatic.  Perhaps most importantly, the cinematography in the film is top notch.  Trevor Tweeten, the director of photography, utilizes classic shot structures impeccably, and many times experiments with intriguing movement or angles to compelling effect.  Finally, the editing is notably tight, which adds to the mysterious and tense atmosphere of the film.

The three-person cast filmed in a single location over four days on Mount Washington in Los Angeles.  Cory Reiger and Chené Lawson play married couple Michael and Freya Burden with a dark secret.  There to turn their life upside down is Gates McFadden, the vengeful, calculated “V”. 

A Word with the Writer

Each of these elements coalesce perfectly to create a thrilling, meaningful story that’s fun to watch and offers viewers something to take with them.  Joe Lueben tells us that he found major inspiration for the film while navigating his own fatherhood. The story “Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been? from Joyce Carol Oates; which also features a stranger that seems to know too much, was an inspiration of his as well.  The film centers on themes of guilt, selfishness, cycles of trauma, and retribution.

I am proud of a lot of the aspects of the film, but mostly I am proud to have worked with such an amazing team. Producers Riley Rose Critchlow and Adam Joseph Janeira believed in the project and worked tirelessly to make it come to fruition. Trevor Tweeten was the cinematographer (and my oldest friend and collaborator) on the project. With his eye, the look of the film is incredible. And, of course, working with a stellar talent like Gates McFadden also was such a proud aspect for me and for the crew. Having her bring V to life was an incredible boost to our little indie horror short.

Joe Lueben

For an interesting story on music in a movie, read here!

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