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Review: Dancin' just thinkin' about it

Our fifth annual short-film festival really moves
By PORTLAND PHOENIX STAFF  |  November 24, 2010

Best Drama
Bait
DIRECTED BY MARK HENSLEY

Bait is a simple film. An ambitious, middle-aged photographer (Scott Eccleston) finally gains clearance to the remote, abandoned building he's been seeking to document. Fortunes dictate that his business partner can't accompany him, so he goes alone. On location, he is so alight with excitement over his subject — the shadowy building — that he fails to realize that it's also home to a mercurial young woman (IE Thompson, who plays a terrific haunt, half-Gollum, half-Jodie Foster's Nell) carrying a grubby doll. As the girl is unnerved, it is quickly clear that the comfort of the doll derives from its second function, as she expertly uses it as a lure to guide the photographer to his grisly end.

Yarmouth photographer Mark Hensley's first film, Bait follows a classic horror plot. With the feint already captured in the title, Hensley instead uses his thoughtful, expert camerawork to generate suspense. The Hitchcockian stylings are well-played and anxiety-inducing, and the long corridors and shadowy otherness of the site (Biddeford's North Dam Mill) does indeed provide tremendous shots and appropriately dampened color tones. The artful cinematography that follows the photographer to his inevitable end convinces us of the reason he wanted to capture the building in the first place. For obvious reasons, that's a pretty rattling trick, and is an impressive bit of baiting of Hensley's own.

NICHOLAS SCHROEDER

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