Directed by Axelle Carolyn, The Last Post is an emotional ghost story confidently told across eleven minutes. Opening with shots of an elderly lady, Colette (Jean Marsh), struggling to move about her sparse nursing home room, the film then rarely leaves this one room, the contained story unfolding slowly around this central character.
A wise choice perhaps as it is good to see a short film embracing the constraints of the format and telling a relatively simple story. The story is more of a romantic themed piece than one may expect from the kind of shorts usually seen in FrightFest’s short film showcase and it is a welcome break from the more showy, gory and often a little empty shorts that often dominate horror festival short film line ups.
Early in the film Colette begins to see a ghostly figure, seen first in a blur in the background, but when questioning her nurse about the man she has seen she is told that there is no-one there. One of the strengths of the short is that there is always an ambiguity as to the appearance of the ghostly figure and whether, within the film’s internal logic, this is a ghost or just something that Colette is imagining or perhaps wishing into existence, a companion for this lonely elderly lady.
Whilst I’m not personally a fan of slow dissolves and there is perhaps a very slight issue with matching lighting and eyelines between shots, the majority of the direction and editing is assured and the muted lightning and subtle colours match the nature of the tender and mature story. A sombre piano score from Christian Henson also compliments the visual style effectively and is never too obtrusive.
A short film that tells a story effectively, concisely and in a satisfactory manner is not, unfortunately, a common occurrence but Carolyn manages to do so here and also succeeds in making something that is reasonably moving too.