At first glance, ‘Sea Light‘ doesn’t look like a project that aims to impress with a so-called spectacular action. But John Doe gives us a subtler experience, a refined psychological game, and a tailor-made atmosphere in which “sterile” realism is intertwined with fantasy. In addition, the fact that the director chooses to build his short film around a single character makes that complicity between the spectator and the protagonist even stronger. This connection makes you feel much more intensely the emotional fluctuations of the old lighthouse keeper, who develops against the background of an almost sacred fascination for the mysteries of the world he lives in an existential crisis that pushes him into madness. What seems to begin as a meditation on the fragility of life, in the style of the famous novel by Hemingway, turns into a story that is closer to the daily quirks of some proses signed by Julio Cortazar or the aquatic nightmares recalling the “Cold Skin” book/movie. Likewise, the impenetrable secret of the sea that sends mysterious messages to the old keeper has something of the almost gothic aura of H.P. Lovecraft’s writings when describing enigmatic cults dedicated to supernatural entities. However, the director doesn’t give us access to the final epiphany of the character – the gods who are shown to him, in the end, are invisible to us. Following the extreme gesture of the protagonist, only the uninterrupted breathing of the sea remains, keeping its enigmas unhindered.


We could say, from this point of view, that the real character of the short film is, in fact, the sea, whose presence is felt in every moment of this epiphanic nightmare lived with eyes wide open. That is why John Doe invests so much in creating this rather twilight universe, this atmosphere that exudes both absolute freedom and abysmal fear. The sea, the quintessential female symbol, is not only a constant visual presence but also a permanent seductive “voice” that insidiously overwhelms the main character. This fascination that contaminates the viewer also occurs gradually, through a slow burn narrative progression professionally conducted with well-balanced cinematography and a suggestive soundtrack. ‘Sea Light’ is a short film that resembles a mermaid song: the magnetism it emanates will trap you in an experience that may make you shiver. And that’s why we enjoyed every single moment of it!


For its temperate, but at the same time fascinating and terrifying, atmosphere, and for the professionalism with which the director builds this final confrontation of a character with his own destiny, ‘Sea Light’ was awarded the Film of the Month distinction in the May 2022 edition of TMFF.