Written and directed by Nikola Sreckovic, when a group of four young siblings are playing finger guns, they discover that the youngest has special powers. She soon starts abusing this strange power and orders her siblings do as she demands. As her requests become more and more difficult her siblings decide that they have to revolt. Starring: Ava Bowen, Louis Byrne, Tabitha King, Katherine Nheu and Oliver Patry.
The film has a very idle summer adventure feel to it, the kids have had enough time off that they’ve gotten to a place where having nothing to do or being able to play all the time, is no longer interesting. Most kids at that point these days would probably be stuck to an iPad or television so it’s a nice chance of pace to see kids actually using their imagination to play a game, even if it unfortunately turns out to have been not such a great idea for them. It’s a novel concept for the finger gun to have the powers of a real gun, it takes some of what’s familiar in the sense of children’s imagination becoming reality but at the same time has its own spin on things. It’s an interesting metaphor for family power dynamics and how when children sense that they have the upper hand in a situation with adults, they tend to take advantage of it. As well as taking from the reality that elder siblings are generally held responsible for the wellbeing of the youngest which makes them vulnerable to their requests as to not upset them.
The filmmakers certainly gave themselves a challenge here, making their lead characters four children but surprisingly they all do quite well, there’s a general tendency to fall on overacting and melodramatics but here it’s only present when called for. There isn’t particularly one who stands out among them, they make a solid ensemble together and their familial banter and chemistry is convincing. They create a classic age hierarchy quite easily and the dynamic is clear, it will be very reminiscent to anyone who isn’t an only child. Nheu is quite a brief presence to the film, so it’s hard to judge her performance, but she fulfils the classic role babysitter resenting that she has to spend her free time with small children and never gets off her phone.
Sreckovic’s directorial work is solid, there’s a great range of shots that push the adventure style atmosphere to begin with then shifts slightly into a child-friendly thriller almost. You can see the attempt to increase the tension, it isn’t quite fulfilling the potential suspense that the story could have had but the intention is there. The writing feels genuine, for the most part it does actually feel like a conversation children would have, which is something to recognise given how many films get it wrong but how quickly they come up with a plan to deal with a body is slightly disturbing so hopefully not reflective of all children. However, the story needs to be fleshed out slightly, it loses part of its impact on the fact that no-one questions how Lucy (Bowen) came to have these powers or why, or even just seem curious about it. Including the clip of Bugs Bunny fighting Elmer Fudd does give a nice boost to the idea of influencing children’s imagination and the possibility that that’s where this power stemmed from but it’s slightly too vague to round out the story.
It’s also restricted slightly by its use of effects, of course taking budgets into account for a short film means extensive special effects are a luxury so the visual aspect isn’t too much of an issue but the impact would have been strengthened by better sound effects. The noise of the bullet is simply too quiet, it lacks a punch to it, sounding more like an air rifle than gun, which makes the damage it does feel less convincing, kicking the sound up a notch could have made a big difference.
Finger Guns is a fun concept that melds a child’s imagination with family power dynamics, it takes a classic adventure atmosphere and adds its own spin. The direction and writing are strong, working well in unison to strengthen each other but there are aspects that needed to be fleshed out or energised to really pull off the story in an impactful way. However, the story feels original, it shows a number of talents, and it manages to pull off a perceptive take on the subject in a family friendly, fun way.