Friday, February 23, 2024

‘Erax’ Pits Monsters Against Aunties For a Fun Romp

Share This Post

Erax is a short film from Netflix, part of its Emerging Fimmamkers Initiative (EFI) program. It bears the influences of VHS classics such as Ghoulies or Munchies while playing like a story from Goosebumps. It’s a hoot.

Hebru Brantley creates a world and a vibe within mere seconds, setting the stage for a creepy tongue-in-cheek creature feature. Utilizing a clever combination of CGI and old-school puppetry, Brantley creates a mood and aesthetic with lighting and camera angles courtesy of Bongani Mlambo. As a result, Erax feels like something out of a fairy-tale book, lean and mean, while filled with magic that we can’t rightly explain.

Opal (Jasmine Cephas Jones) is late for her niece, Nina’s (Genesis White) birthday party. Upon arriving, she’s met with her angry brother Cliff (Lance Gross), who lectures her about always being late. Then, late for work, he leaves in a huff. Thus Brantley and his co-writer Henry G.M. Jones have given us the meat and potatoes of Erax, that of owning up for our mistakes before the consequences come back back and harm us in unforeseen ways.

It becomes clear that Opal is fond of making promises but has trouble keeping them, but the larger issue is that she seems incapable of taking responsibility for her actions. But we also learn that Nina’s mother abandoned her and her father, just as Opal and Cliff’s mother did as well. Erax has monsters and intriguing and engrossing mythology. Still, at its core, it’s trying to show how trauma leads to a toxic mindset of rugged individualism that is equally if not more harmful.

An Erax

Mlambo’s camerawork and placement help Brantley tell his story expediently and stylishly. For example, in the beginning, we see Opal’s car back into a book house. Brantley thrusts us into the world of Erax while also creating a sense of urgency. Granted, this is because Josie Azzam’s editing creates a visual rhythm that booths draws us in and piques our curiosity. 

Erax manages to be somewhat creepy and fun while never sacrificing one for the other. Mainly because Brantley and his crew aim for a storybook feel, a feat they achieve through the lighting and camera placement. Mlambo’s camera is never where you’d expect it while somehow never feeling ostentatious. Fitting, considering the devilish creatures that terrorize Opal and Nina come from a mysterious old storybook and are themselves little ciphers of chaos. Jones and White make for a believable Aunt and Neice, hinting at a past that goes beyond the opening credits.

Nina (Genesis White)

However, at one point, it seems that Opal may be in danger of becoming an Erax herself if she doesn’t own up to her past. It’s an interesting thread that, despite it being the narrative center, feels underserved by Brantley and Jones. At the same time, the vagueness of it all gives Erax a feel of an oral story passed down from generation to generation. Like a story told by the campfire, it makes enough sense for what it is.

The puppeteers Russ Walko, Nicolette Santino, Raymond Carr, and Grant Baciocco make the Erax energetic and exert a playful menace. But they don’t exactly stand apart; one Erax is the same as any other Erax. Still, the film is a scant ten minutes, and the fact that it builds any kind of mythology at all while telling a creepy functional story is impressive.

Brantley shows a flair for visuals and tone that many bigger-budget movies lack. Erax is a fun, creepy short film that, while low-budget, never feels cheap. 

Images courtesy of Netflix

Have strong thoughts about this piece you need to share? Or maybe there’s something else on your mind you’re wanting to talk about with fellow Fandomentals? Head on over to our Community server to join in the conversation!


  • Jeremiah

    Jeremiah lives in Los Angeles and divides his time between living in a movie theatre and writing mysteries. There might also be some ghostbusting being performed in his spare time.

Latest Posts

Commune With a God in Daryl Gregory’s Revelator

Confession: I was sleeping on this book. Revelator by...

Scrooge McDuck To Make Marvel Comics Debut This Summer With ‘Uncle $crooge And The Infinity Dime’

This June, Jason Aaron and a host of talented Disney comic book artists take the miserly Scrooge McDuck on a multiversal adventure

From the Vault: ‘Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro’

Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro occupies a strange...

Marvel’s Voices Celebrates Mystique And Destiny This June In X-Men: The Wedding Special

Kieron Gillen reveals Mystique and Destiny’s never-before-told wedding in this year’s Marvel’s Voices: Pride one-shot—X-MEN: THE WEDDING SPECIAL #1.

Glass Cannon Unplugged Announces New Tabletop Adaptation Of Survival Horror Game Dying Light

Run, Climb, and Jump Through Villedor and Survive the Threat of the Infected

Archie Comics Announces Horror Series ‘Archie: Judgement Day’, First In New Archie Premium Event Series

Kick off the first Archie Premium Event on May 22 with the most horrifying version of Riverdale ever seen!