Lonely Laura and Her Sister Niamh

By Florence Hyde | Horror
A serial killer demands her sister cleans up after her.

Laura is looking forward to going out one night on a date. But instead of meeting up with her possible romantic interest, she has to take care of her sister Niamh’s mess. Niamh’s mess is on the unusual side. Niamh is a psychopath and a serial killer, and her mess usually consists of dead bodies.

But Laura still loves Niamh, though she is uneasy about her sister’s darkness and increasingly resentful about the way Niamh’s predilections are intruding upon her life. She wants to go out on dates and have a life — not drop everything to help her increasingly murderous sister. But this night, Niamh may have taken a step too far with Laura…

This short hybrid of drama, comedy and horror — written and directed by Florence Hyde, and produced and shot by Jacob Sacks Jones — may have a killer and her enabler at its center, but it’s actually light on-screen violence. Instead, with a sense of stylish darkness in its visuals, a set of excellent performances and unique trickster tone, it’s a story about the enduring bonds of familial love, and negotiating the line between loyalty and codependency.

The storytelling rests on writing that slowly unfurls its characters and world, draped in nocturnal, darkly saturated tones and lighting. Announcing right away that Niamh is a murderer, the script holds a fascinating tension between the script’s open, almost brazen straightforwardness of Niamh’s predilections and the absolute ordinariness of life and family. Laura and Niamh would be just another pair of sisters, living and going out in a suburban, normal world — if not for Niamh’s killing.

Sometimes the film plays this tension for humor, presenting the (usually offscreen) murders with a cheeky “business as usual” mundaneness, complete with cheery indie-pop soundtrack, which contrasts with the almost film noir look and feel of the visuals. But as the film focuses on Laura’s frustrations with her role in Niamh’s life, the real tension emerges: will Laura stand up for herself and take her life back in some way from her sister’s unusual lifestyle?

Actors Yasmin Paige and Grainne O’Mahony play the central roles of the sisters with a palpable sense of connection, which can veer between differing poles of resentment, dependence, irritation and love. The film’s style isn’t intimate or psychological, and the emphasis on tone and style make for a studied, ironic distance, but O’Mahony and Paige capture the careless way we can treat our loved ones and the seething resentments that bubble up underneath the unspoken truths. But can Laura finally speak up for herself, when her sister is a killer? What will prove more powerful for Niamh: her bloodlust or her sisterly love?

The idea of the female psychopath has entered the cultural conversation recently, particularly with the popularity of the hit TV show “Killing Eve,” and fans of that show will recognize and appreciate this short film’s archly humanistic, wry view of Niamh as well as its macabre wit. True to the film’s tone, the conflict is resolved between the pair in a casual, almost offhand way. But small gestures and words of appreciation resonate far and wide when it comes to our closest relationships — even when one of the people in them is a killer.

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