Written by Navin Noronha and Abhi Tundel and directed by Abhi Tundel, The Cradle is a horror short that stars Siddesh Pednekar and Srishti Srivastava. The film focuses on a young family, where the father finds himself highly engrossed in his work and the mother trying to keep the baby entertained in the other room. As soon as an ominous doorbell rings, the father gets up to check and everything goes haywire.
This is a high concept short where the subtext behind the final reveal is not immediately apparent. Is the mother hallucinating due to the sheer overwork that she is forced to deal with or is there something else, more sinister at play? Tundel’s short leaves things wide open, forcing the audience to come up with their own explanation as to what exactly happens to the baby. Is the baby even real? Or does that horrific act of violence mean something else entirely?
With no dialogues, Tundel had to tell the story through the visual medium and he managed to do so splendidly. All exposition is accomplished visually and the audience has to deduce what is going on. The red aura in the room with the wife and the baby alludes to darkness and as we see at the end, there is truly something disturbing going on in that room. The wife’s final glance at the camera before the film ends also alludes to this and as she chomps down on the baby’s leg, we find our minds racing to come up with all sorts of disturbing explanations for what we have witnessed.
The acting is fine across the board. Both Siddesh Pednekar and Srishti Srivastava do a good job and their turns are even more important as there is not a single spoken dialogue throughout the film. Conveying emotions solely through their faces and body language, Srishti makes the film her own. Is she inherently evil or is she being controlled by something other worldly? Srishti’s nuanced and mysterious performance is the bedrock for the film’s final reveal. Siddesh, on the other hand, is fine as the stoic father who just wants to carve out a living for his family. The film ends before we see his reaction but I imagine it would not have been pretty.
There is a maddening aura to the film, one that is hard to explain but also familiar. Like slowly going crazy from being stuck in a silent and eerie place, it is the presence of this aura that makes The Cradle so disturbing and so unnerving. The slow focus on Srishti’s face, the gradually increasing hymns in the background and the wife’s demonic antics all make for a pretty scary film. Even the film’s set design contributes to this; there is a sense of order in the home and yet everything is out of order in the baby’s room. It is little details like these that make the film so good.
Kudos to Tudel for keeping the exposition minimum and the pacing perfect. So much stuff happens in this short that I was surprised to find out that it had an entire runtime of only three minutes. Tundel builds up the tension slowly and deflates the bubble in one go in a single shot. It is a technique that is most effective, leaving audiences shocked and scrambling them for logical answers. The editing, particularly the back and forth from the red room to the rest of the house, is also pitch perfect and so is the supremely timed bell that signals the arrival of an ominous visitor to the house.
As far as the twist is concerned, it is quite well done and will take you by surprise. Tundel builds up the reveal gradually with an ominous soundtrack and an eerie feeling that something is not quite right in this household. However, his deftness lies in the fact that he is able to hide this twist right until the very end. There is no single moment where the audience can figure out the twist beforehand. When the twist does reveal itself and we see the wife eating the baby, we find our collective jaws hit the floor. The reveal is so shocking that I had to do a double take to ensure that I was not having a real life knightmare.
Therefore, Abhi Tundel’s The Cradle is a well made horror short, one that is bound to give you nightmares. Everything from the script to the acting and from the cinematography to the pacing works perfectly to create an experience that will leave you speechless. There are a lot of ways the film could have faltered but Abhi Tundel makes sure that he hits a home run here. Tundel has a real shot at becoming an esteemed horror filmmaker here and he could infuse new blood in the genre effortlessly. We cannot wait to see what he manages to come up with next.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR:
Abhi Tundel is a director, writer, and designer. He was born in Ahmedabad, India on 26th March 1998. He was raised in four different cities. Currently, He lives in Bombay, India. Abhi’s work is always looking into the maddening realities of society, its melancholia, and the sole dread of mere human existence.
Abhi Tundel IMDb:
The Cradle IMDb: