The traditional “haunted house” tale gets a modern update with L.U.N.A., a 2021 short film from Emmy Award-winning director Blake Vaz.
Written by Roman Arabia and Mike Bane, L.U.N.A. opens to find technician Lilian Romero (Fernanda Romero – The Eye, Drag Me to Hell) reluctantly sent by her company on a late-night service call to the home of a couple who have reported a “problem” occurring with their digital home assistant; an Alexa-like device called a L.U.N.A. Lilian arrives at the home and is greeted by two young women, Jaime (Lauren Bair – The Nice Guys, TV’s “Grimm”) and her partner, Sarah (Lauren DeShane, who has appeared on TV series “Royal Pains” and “Tosh.0”), who have only just recently moved into the place (one of whom is sporting a t-shirt of Dario Argento’s Inferno).
Upon asking what trouble the couple has been experiencing, Lilian is informed that the L.U.N.A. device has taken to activating itself in the middle of the night. While this in itself may seem like little more than an annoyance, the couple reveal that the device has been speaking in Spanish while doing so, a language that neither woman speaks. Lilian, who is a Hispanic woman, initially believes herself to be the target of a prank or joke. That is, until the device activates itself to deliver a disturbing message (again, in Spanish): “Help me! I’m in the basement.”
The three women make their way to the basement, the couple stating that they have yet to actually inspect the room themselves. They find the basement cluttered with multiple discarded electronics, such as video cameras, TVs, and even a turntable. Again, the L.U.N.A. device delivers another bizarre message; the voice stating that “they” are behind the nearby bookshelf.
Moving the bookshelf aside, Lilian (and soon the couple as well) begins to hear what sounds like knocking coming from the other side of the basement’s brick wall. Startled, they believe that someone may be trapped on the other side, and begin to determine a way to break through. That is, until Lilian notices something much more frightening and sinister than the messages coming from L.U.N.A.
L.U.N.A., like many short films, serves as more of a “proof of concept” or “teaser” for a bigger project than as a self-contained presentation. In fact, a feature-length version of the film does appear to be in the works, although any information on such is scarce at this time. Many times, when I am presented with a short-film that the filmmaker(s) intend to expand into a feature-length, I myself feel as though the overall concept is just too thin, and that there is little of substance worth adding, making the proposed project seem like a potentially flawed concept.
However, in the case of L.U.N.A., I truly believe that the short film version of this tale is only presenting us with the “tip of the iceberg”, with many possible layers of story depth hidden just beneath the surface. In other words, I do believe that the potential for a thrilling feature-length film is definitely there and hope that I’ll be granted the opportunity to review that film if/when it finally comes to fruition.
Performances are solid throughout, and there is a stylish approach to some of the camera work, featuring a few nicely-achieved, slow pans for dramatic effect. I also found the film’s synthy opening theme to be quite intriguing as well. There is at least one instance of CG effects that, while not revolutionary or ground-breaking, do not detract from or become a detriment to the film. Just as compelling as these aspects is the house itself; an older home with wood walls, floors, and a wood staircase adorned with a carving of a goat. I’m sure (or, at least, hope) that last particular aspect plays more importance in the feature film version.
At only 10 minutes long, L.U.N.A. is a quick, fast-paced thrill, but one that I found to be quite impressive. Here’s hoping that the feature-length film can sustain that approach.
Unfortunately, this short is still making the film fest circuit, so it is currently unavailable to watch online. That said, you may just see the film appear on this website at a later date. Until then, you can learn more about the film at its official website, www.movieluna.com, or on its Instagram account, www.instagram.com/l.u.n.a.film