Film Review: Shiver

Tension fills the air as this film opens onto its protagonist. An effective use of visuals and music convey the message that something isn’t right, that there is an underlying fracture, something eating away. A strong opening that brings up a number of questions that the audience want answering.

As the film moves on the tension grows within seemingly mundane surroundings. An interesting juxtaposition between narrative and location. Excellent cinemtography and editing result in a smooth flow between scenes that aids in the fluidity of the overall piece.

As the relationships and characters become more evident it becomes clear the film looks athopes, dreams, friendships and love. The writers and production team build a world almost in isolation where the characters fight to survive. Where the everyday places a huge strain on their relationships.

The performances are strong and character investment is easy because of this. Both actors and writers have worked well to bring to life well rounded and exciting characters that are both flawed and redeemable. The dialogue flows well and doesn’t feel contrite or forced.

The ending brings everything to a conclusion yet leaves enough open for interpretation that the audience leaves with intrigue. A well shot, well acted piece that proves short films can pack as big a narrative punch as a feature. Talented writing and beautiful cinematography bring together an atmospheric piece that will stay with you.

Film Review: War in Heels

There is nothing quite like a woman scorned, and here we see that played out in a humorous short film. We have all gone a little crazy after a break up, but stalking and potential kidnap is a little far for most, but not for this betrayed lady. As she plans a stake out with her friend litre does she know it is her friend who may be the one that has aused the friction. A twisting comedy that, whilst not breaking boundaries, as a delight to watch.

Simple yet effective comedic dialogue rule this piece as the single location focuses the audience on the characters. The head on camera angles along with minimal shots helps establish the central focus of the film. The writing is good and despite the short running time the characters are defined. They bounce off each other well and there is the chemistry that makes the audience believe in their friendship, which makes the final twist nice and juicy.

The film feels simplistic yet it a evidentially well developed and skilfully put totgether from a technical perspective. Cinemtography and editing are well executed and sound editing is completed so that there is minimal distraction from the dialogue and interaction between the two leads.

An easy and enjoyable short film that brings a smile to the face and a shock to the system with its twist. Oh, and I’m taking your pineapple.

Film Review: Factory 91

An audience generally speaking want to be grabbed by a film in the first five minutes. In a short film, this opportunity is even shorter, and therefore it is more difficult for a shorter film to take hold of an audience quickly. Here we see a film that does that. From the very first scene the audience are provided with questions that they want answers to. A bizarre situation that warrants investigation.

The steady, lethargic pace offers an eerie atmosphere that immediately engulfs the watcher. This atmospheric approach to the film holds true with the overall darkness of the subject matter as the audience are shown an insight into the darker side of growing up. An exploration into drug addiction, sibling rivalry and loneliness.

The lead character, a young female, has to circumnavigate a surreal set of circumstances whilst also dealing with her own issues. The film is a strong example of exploring the human condition and what it is to live, and to grow.

The visuals within the film are strong and the dull colours and sometimes stark mise-en-scène compliments the sometimes bare dialogue and ambience that the film provides. There is a strong emphasis on visuals which works well within the film.

The performances are all around strong. They compliment the feel of the film with many visually emphasised performances. A lack of outward emotion works well within the darkness of the film and results in the characters fitting into the films world perfectly.

The film is well edited with strong photography used throughout. The melancholia of the production stays with you after the film has finished, and this is in no small part due to the impressive use of music within the film which compliments the action and story perfectly.

Overall a well produced and executed dark drama that draws the audience in and holds them right up until the end.

Film Review: Vicious Minds Project

As the only combination of music video and short film the Festival has got this season, Vicious Minds Project makes a compelling case for one of the most interesting and less explored genres in this category. Perfect for a horror-filled short are the feelings of hate, revenge and broken trust. There are many great works of the genre from which a filmmaker can grab inspiration from, but one of the most loved in this day and age is the zombie movie. Mixing the demonic and satanic with these terrifying creatures is a great way to start a career in horror short production.

The overall visual style of the short is the kind of scary that doesn’t really scare the audience but leads you on, makes you want to watch more, know more and be part of the adventure. It is meant to be what brings you in rather that something that invades your nightmares, and at this it excels. The special effects make-up looks very professional, a great choice of staff since it is a very important part of the short, almost the sole visual element that brings the plot together. Costume design is also very synchronized with the whole script. The diversity of clothes and characters really gives life to the ‘who’s next?’ statement, that suggests a possible sequel we are all waiting for. The location choice also helps create a very special atmosphere. Not only is it a specific part of the woods that looks particularly suffocating, but the feeling of being lost without hope of going back home follows, not only the main character, but the audience as well.

The inspiration taken from cinema is evident and appreciated, since horror is one of the genres with the most active and loving community in the whole world of fandom. True love for demons, monsters, murderers, ghosts and zombies is shown in this short, a true homage to great ones like George Romero and Wes Craven. Mixing the disgusting goo and blood and dirt with the clean image of the main character at the beginning really makes you cringe at the idea of being that next victim they apparently want to add to their undead ranks. Religious imagery is also present in the form of a demonic nun, always a part of horror classic horror movie lore, with very successful examples like The Other Hell (1981) and the most recent The Conjuring 2 (2016).

Vicious Mind Project found a very creative way to mix past and present: visuals of horror with dubstep-like music, made by Sinima Beats. Commonly used online by gamers and streamers, this is a music genre that had better days but keeps growing amongst the true fans on the internet. Every year it gets more professional and mainstream music keeps borrowing some of its most defining elements (which is a small victory in itself even though not everyone would agree). If Vicious Minds Project could become a longer short with a thicker plot, it would be the perfect balance of music and narrative, but as a standalone music video (by a first-time filmmaker) it definitely shows huge potential.

Film Review: Ghost Nets

Families are never straightforward or simple, which is what makes them such a popular topic for film makers. The nuances and varied relationships within them make for fascinating watching and Ghost Nets is no exception.

Focusing on two brothers, the film explores their flawed and cracked relationship and the background that has made it so whilst also offering a striking mystery element. The film provides layers to its storyline that keep hold of the audience throughout, despite its simple settings and minimal cast.

The story arc is developed well with three dimensional main characters that are both flawed and endearing. The actors provide performances that are strong and present relationships that are believable and tangible. The tension between the two brothers is evident right from the first scene and continues throughout, yet there is also some true affection within their performances coupled with raw and heart breaking emotion.

The jagged and wild settings are a clever accompaniment to the jagged and wild relationships that are present within the film. Edited well, the film flows with a steady pace that peaks and troughs without seeming all over the place.

Ghost Nets is a unique and clever exploration of relationships and family that explores nuances and interactions whilst also providing an intriguing story. A strong example of an independent character driven short that promises to do well on the festival circuit.

Film Review: Like Father, Like Son

Tragedies like this are, sadly, too common in real life. It’s present in schools, hospitals, colleges and on the street: children tend to copy onto others the things they have learned and the behaviours the observed adults have around them. It does not matter whether we do our best or not. For many, it’s very difficult to take the right path after being witness to so much conflict, suffering and pain (personal and shared). This is one of the maladies of modern city life for a long time now. How do we get kids to stop mimicking the abuse they suffered when they were young? Like Father, Like Son focuses on the consequences of this conduct once the victim becomes an adult.

The tape indicating a crime scene and the overall heavy atmosphere, with the invasive radio sounds and extremely dim lighting immediately suggest a noir setting, one that has been getting a lot of attention in cinema this year, also taking into account the neo-noir, it’s most recent sub-genre. In spite of this, the plot is almost entirely a drama that takes into account the urban life problems described on the first paragraph. We have failed as a society, for until now no solution to this problem has been found, allowing dangerous behaviour to move ahead in time and creating miserable lives for the children of the future. Like Father, Like Son is a cautionary tale, disguised as a regular drama. Its teachings are hard to apply, but easy to find and agree with. Maybe in a small scale (household scale, neighbourhood block scale) it will open the eyes of many and help make childhood a better experience for those still going through it.

The care with which the script was put together is evident, leaving the spectator in the dark for just the right amount of time, in order to create one of the most well edited and produced twists in this Festival’s current season. The detective show-inspired edition made it a great bit and ensures a gasp from anyone watching the short. It’s an amazing visual resource that was included in the right moment and not overused, a common mistake for first-time filmmakers.

The actors, despite the awful story they were immersed in, managed to communicate their pain, worry and the love their characters have for each other (even after all they have been through). Even in such a small space (a limiting facet of film sets that theater actors are not used to), they managed to create believable characters and situations work according to the plot. It’s not easy to get into the skin of subjects so tormented and sad, but their performances compliment the script in a way that makes them virtually real, highlighting the fact that anybody can be part of that particular hell from which everyone should escape as soon as they notice.

It’s too early in Race Matías’ career to tell what his future will be, but after only one year of film studies, this is an important experience on the path of a promising filmmaker.

The Strangest Thing (that happened to two strangers)

Most of us will give the people we see on the street names, lives, stories and backgrounds. Standing in a queue or sat in a restaurant we watch those around us, wonder what they are doing. What will they go home to? Are they married? Children? But do we ever wonder what they are giving to us? What story they are allocating to us? The Strangest Thing does.

The Strangest Thing is, in essence, simple but effective. Two strangers see each other regularly. They begin to form ideas about each other. Paranoia kicks in, our human anxieties take over and as quickly as it began it ends. This film encapsulates a wealth of human nature in 7 minutes.

The scripting of this film is fantastic. To delve this deeply into the human psyche in such a short space of time and in such simplistic terms is wonderful to watch. The actors do a glorious job of portraying emotions on the screen to mirror their individual voice overs. For these to match as well as they do is admirable.

The fact the film is in black and white is of little consequence, but it does detract from the imagery slightly and allow the viewer to focus more on the words than what is going on, on the screen. A clever trick to manipulate the audiences focus. Excellent direction and strong editing tie the whole film together in a neat and impressive package.