THE MAN IN THE PINSTRIPE SUIT: Precise Execution Delivers Promise

For years, the short film medium has been a launching pad for some of the most successful horror films and horror franchises. The Babadook, Ju-on: The Grudge, When A Stranger Calls, Trick ‘r Treat, and Saw all found their starts through short films – a proof of concept leading to a full-blown feature loved by many. The Man in the Pinstripe Suit, from director, writer – a literal jack of all trades – Max Goldberg, is the latest horror short to show promise and to follow in the footsteps of these films’ iconic horror classics.

Horror runs deep

As The Man in the Pinstripe Suit opens, it is the visuals that are instantly hypnotizing, locking you into the film. You can not help but be taken in by the deep reds on both the stripped tiled wall of the subway platform, as well as the dark stripes of the kid’s (Aaron Foster) shirt – a shirt very reminiscent of Freddy Krueger’s sweater. Within seconds, viewers come to an understanding of who this kid is – he is each one of us. In his moment of navigating the subway system, a freshman in college venturing into the world on his own for the first time, it is immediately understood that he is out of place, a feeling each viewer can relate to at some point in their lives.

THE MAN IN THE PINSTRIPE SUIT: Precise Execution Delivers Promise
source: Max Goldberg

With a map navigating his route in hand, he waits the 12 minutes for the arrival of the next red line train – which subsequently matches up with the running time of the short film itself. The subway platform is silent and vacant, accompanied only by the buzzing of the lights above him – that is until he notices a figure in the shadows on the platform across the way. The innocent life of the kid is immediately contrasted by the consuming darkness on the opposite side. Panicking, the kid reaches into his bag, pulling out a small plush “The Flash” doll (further helping the film along on its red color palette), embracing the comfort it has clearly provided him in the past. Yet, as he does this, the figure, a man in a pinstriped suit, walks toward the edge of his platform, his vampiric eyes and menacing presence terrifying, his briefcase presenting a vacuum of emptiness, a black hole to purge the remaining innocence between them.

The eternal battle of youth and cold reality

The Man in the Pinstripe Suit is one of those short films that feels longer than its run time – but in a good way. Goldberg fills every essence of celluloid with action, meaning, and visionary horror, structure the frames of the craft to its limits. Where the film is an examination of the inevitable acceptance of adulthood and the reconciling of your past and future self, it is a brilliant horror short overall.

The monster, as we will call him, is gothic, reminiscent of vampires, and with even a hint of Slenderman. He is eerie and unpredictable, giving little room for viewers to “figure it out”. As he stands there, a hard stare into the soul of the kid, he knows his fears, he knows the innocence he still maintains. As the monster attempts to suck that innocence away, he is the cold hard world with unimaginable expectations and overwhelming directions – the coldness of the world snatching youth. His beneath-the-surface meanings are met with a visual and auditory craftsmanship of horror, the clicking and cracking of his bones and joints, and the shrill scream that erupts from his core, are all deeply unnerving.

THE MAN IN THE PINSTRIPE SUIT: Precise Execution Delivers Promise
source: Max Goldberg

The kid is the transitory figure here. While the monster is stationary, with a predetermined set of rules and expectations, the kid has the power to evolve and to bring a new perspective to the situation. He has the ability of transference, but only if he chooses to embrace this power. He must not only acknowledge and accept it, but he must also act. All while refusing to compromise who he is.

Conclusion: A Director to watch

There are short films that spark franchises, and The Man in the Pinstripe Suit has the makings of such a success. And if I had to name one person to look out for it would be Mark Goldberg. With an impressive short film that boasts precise execution and deeply invested themes, this 12 minutes short is a snapshot of potential to come.

The film is available to watch here

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