In a short film, finding a way to make every second count is the real challenge to the filmmaker. When you’ve only got ten to twenty minutes to work with, there’s no time to waste on exposition or frivolous dalliances; if the audience’s attention isn’t grabbed right outta the gate and held with an iron fist, a short film is usually going to fail. The script must be concise, the shots economical yet vibrant; the actors have to be earnest and the narrative must flow like water…and most importantly, in my humble opinion, is that a short film must make you think. I’m not saying that you should have a lot of blanks to fill in (if that’s the case, the film hasn’t done enough), just that whatever you see should be that little slice of some reality, leaving you to sort out what’s on the rest of the pie. That’s the real beauty of the art form, and I for one feel cheated if I come away from a short without something to ponder.
Michael Sharpe and company, with their film Out of One’s Misery, have put one over the left field fence.
The concept is easy to pick up from the opening scene; a man, David, sits in a homey but darkened house, very distressed and sorrowful. From the voice-over, we learn a terrible tragedy has befallen him; his wife and daughter have recently died, and from his depressed thoughts and close cuddling with a bottle of Jack, we can tell he’s still in pretty rough shape. He suffers painful visions and wracking exhaustion, consumed in his grief. Out of the darkness, a visitor arrives to disturb his vigil; a dark-suited man who introduces himself as Sanford. Ironically, it seems that he is looking for his wife and daughter. For reasons I can’t say, we the audience have reason to find this man sinister; David, however, is blissfully oblivious. The two men carry on what becomes an increasingly more uncomfortable conversation, and soon the house itself becomes a tapestry of ominous sound and foreboding emotion. It’s apparent that there’s much more in store for David this night than his grief or his bottle of Tennessee sour mash.
The story is well-structured and expedient; Sharpe squeezes every drop from his script, but it never seems forced or cheap. The cinematography is beautiful to behold; the color palette of grays and firelit oranges paints the home as both a place of mourning and a place of darkness; the camera movements are precise and each adds value to the film as a whole. Each of the actors gives you credibility in their performances, with the two leads playing off one another in a kind of verbal ballet of anxiety. There’s not a lot of effects (economy, people!), but what there is will damn sure kick you in the teeth, one shot in particular completely blindsided me with its savagery (and that doesn’t happen to me much).
I’m not going to discuss any more details; it is a short film, and one really needs to see it for themselves to plumb the depths and twists of the plot. It’s enough for me to say that one, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Two, as I write this, I’m still kickin’ the flick around in my head, considering it’s different aspects, pondering exactly what happened and what it all means.
Michael Sharpe is a name I will pay attention to in the future; if he’s got me thinking this much with a short, I can’t wait until he does a feature.
Check this one out, Fellow Fans.
Latest posts by Andrew Thompson (see all)
- IN MEMORIAM — GEORGE ROMERO 1940 – 2017 - July 17, 2017
- Anticipated PITCHFORK Hits DVD / Blu-ray This Month - May 3, 2017
- Filmmakers Unleash Terrifying OWLMAN On Unsuspecting Urban Explorers - May 2, 2017