Elisa Stanis is a 22-year old animator and illustrator. She works primarily in 2D Animation with a concentration in storyboarding and character design. In her free time, she can be found drawing comics and playing D&D.
When creating this film, I wanted to approach horror from a perspective of "what truly makes something scary?" What elements really hit hard and stick with you after the film is over; what makes you stay up at night and think?
In order to explore that, I drew on themes from my own life that filled me with a certain sense of fear and unease. Being followed, the feeling of uncertainty that lurks behind a closed door, the lack of shelter within a long hallway - mundane and physical things that can quickly give a person a feeling that something isn't quite right.
I specifically wanted to create this film with a feminist perspective, studying the ways women are often portrayed in the horror genre, often through the written direction of men. I wanted to make a protagonist who was willing to fight, but still felt a relatable sense of fear in the face of an unknown threat. The ominous texts and phone call are left to the interpretation of viewers, as are all of the 'supernatural' experiences within the film. Much of my experience as a young woman has involved a sort of conditioning to ignore gut feelings, and talk oneself out of these emotional reactions we may have to a certain place or person. Within this short film, I wanted to really capture the essence of that.
I believe what makes a piece of media the most haunting is when we feel it could happen to us, whether literally, or within a certain fictional context. The safe havens we create within our lives are meant to be just that- safe. If you aren't safe in your own room, in a building surrounded by other people, with technology at your disposal, then where could you ever hide?
On a dark and stormy night, a young college student goes about her usual business, brushing her teeth and getting ready for bed. A mysterious text from an unknown number disrupts the ordinary and a creeping sense of uneasiness begins to take hold as the storm outside intensifies. In the communal bathroom things take a turn for the surreal and horrifying as her imagination runs wild. Bright, poppy animation counterpoints this creepy story in this memorable and unsettling short film.
I made this film while living in Chicago and attending DePaul University and studying animation. DORM is the culmination of four years within Chicago, and the personal growth I have found as a result of the city and its people. The dorm serving as the setting for my piece is modeled after both McCabe and Seton halls on the DePaul University Lincoln Park campus., both in layout, and aesthetic. I often found it odd how even though living within a dorm enabled me to be surrounded by people, walking alone in the long hallways often brought on a sense of fear. I tried to channel this theme into my film; feeling unsafe in places that should be considered 'home' is an aspect of horror that really sticks with me. An isolated but well-populated place is such a unique contrast that I enjoy seeing explored in media. My home in Chicago made me feel safe, and like I belonged, so it was really fun to explore this idea of being hunted and alone in a place that should be secure.