The Madame in Black is a new horror short from Swedish writer/director Jarno Lee Vinsencius that tells the story of siblings Alex and Emma as they are tormented by an evil witch after revisiting an urban legend game from their childhood. Since reviewing Vinsenius’s last short, Darkness Falls, I’ve been excited for The Madame in Black to be released; and I’m pleased to announce that it (mostly) lives up to my expectations.

the madame in black

Now that I’ve seen more than one of his movies, I’m entirely sold on Jarno Lee Vinsencius as a filmmaker. While The Madame in Black is never quite as strong or effective as Darkness Falls, Vinsencius yet again displays an impeccable eye for the way his shots are framed and a tremendous ability to wring tension from what’s happening onscreen as well as create small, intimate moments between his characters.

Speaking of those characters, Demis Tzivis returns to work with Vinsencius following a great performance in Darkness Falls. Tzivis is co-lead of Madame alongside Ida Gyllensten, who plays his sister Emma, and he again shines with his knack for gaining the viewer’s sympathy and ability to exude a remarkable likability. Gyllensten, as well, is fantastic in the role of Emma, understanding the role of the older sibling and displaying a genuine, realistic affection for her younger brother.

Where The Madame in Black falters, however, is in the script. While Vinsencius effectively crafts a few creepy moments from the story, it’s ultimately cliched, bringing to mind films like Candyman and even Dead Silence to an extent, and relying on jump-scares more often than the short film really needed. There isn’t much in this story that we haven’t already seen before, and in a film that’s so wonderfully crafted otherwise, the shortcomings of the story are disappointing.

All in all, The Madame in Black is a terrifically directed and performed horror short that offers much to be admired in spite of some of its shortcomings. Jarno Lee Vinsencius continues his success behind the camera, and I’m stoked for whatever he does next.

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