Written and directed by Steven Sheil, a woman visits a spiritualist healer for one final conversation with her dead husband. Starring: Olivia Newton and Jean Day.
Unmade boils down to two extremely different but smoothly blending elements. The first being its minimalistic aesthetic style, on opening you have the stark contrast between the paleness of the leads’ skin and the dark palette of the costumes and set. It’s a great start to create a ghostly atmosphere before it even reveals its true intentions. The style is very consistent throughout which works extremely well to then shift the focus onto the story.
Steven Sheil’s writing is the star of the show here, what initially gives the impression of a story that’s been done before, suddenly presents an unexpected turn of events. What then unfolds is a superb new take on the use of a séance, seeking a similar yet much different kind of closure. It’s a satisfying and well-written story, the only thing that’s potentially missing is a score to elevate or intensify its atmosphere and round out the experience.
Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10
Directed by Hugh Mann Adamson and Haley Muraleedharan, and written by Joe Willis, Emma’s little girl is autistic and doesn’t get invited to parties often, Emma been supporting her daughter so she can go to Jed’s party. Starring: Jennifer Bulcock, Lindsey Fawcett and Martin Vose.
The Party has an immensely bright hue, almost as if it wants to feed into the children’s party theme right from the get-go. However, considering it’s actually going for a brutal, heartfelt honesty, it might have served the story better to tone things down and go for more clarity than softness. Emma’s (Jennifer Bulcock) monologue is the strongest element to this film, it’s full of highly relevant truths about how parents need to adapt to a child’s needs and not just their own children, but their friends and schoolmates.
It points at how awareness of disability is growing but while someone may know of a disorder or disability, it doesn’t mean that they’re going sympathise enough or be considerate enough to adjust their behaviour or perspective. It also points to how dismissive people can still be, bringing to mind how necessary of a watch The Reason I Jump is. Although the language used in its final line doesn’t quite fit with the grace of its pertinent dialogue. It also feels slightly too stiff and structured, it lacks a natural, more casual edge that the tone tries to imply. However, in spite of a few weaknesses, it has an extremely relevant message and wisely chooses a format to portray that this is an everyday issue.
Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10
Round My Way
Directed by Keeley Lane and written by Kat Rose-Martin, following a paper girl on her daily route and the vibrant personalities she meets on her way. Starring: Ruby-May Martinwood, Nohail Nazir Mohammed, Jim Findley, Kat Rose-Martin and Ruth Evans.
This short film strikes the note of bringing to life poetry, translating it into a visual medium. The tone and patter feel very much structured like that of a poem rather than a natural flow which has its advantages and disadvantages. As a message about community, it hits the right chord but trying to interpret it as a drama doesn’t really work. It can tend to come across as insincere, the performances are also quite wooden as they adhere to the restrictive format of the dialogue.
As time goes on the tone starts to feel more adept at an educational or commercial edge, especially for a younger audience. It doesn’t feel as though it would have a wide appeal. It’s visually well done, the quality has a superb clarity and there’s a great depth to the colour. However, this type of highly structured, poetry-esque dialogue is difficult to pull off without a powerful message and Round My Way sadly doesn’t quite reach that level of emotion.
Verdict: ✯✯✯ | 6/10
Written and directed by H. Nelson Tracey, co-written by stars Jake Collins and Cole Sadler, a guy invites a girl he’s recently started dating to his friend Ozzy’s apartment for a party. Unbeknownst to him, it’s a “Conspiracy Party”. Also starring: Tom Assam-Miller, Hannah McDonald, Jessica Lynn Kincaid, Chase Cargill, Elizabeth Mae Alan, Trevor Stevens and Heston Horwin.
Whereas twenty or more years ago a concept like this may have seemed entirely outlandish, we’ve reached a point where it actually feels as though someone out there could be having a party like this. The tone and atmosphere it builds is exactly what you’d expect, it’s silly and playful, self-aware and doesn’t go too far down the rabbit hole. It’s also on the cheesy side, particularly the acting.
It touches upon all the classic conspiracies, which is one of the elements that walks it down a predictable route. It’s missing an element to make it stand out, something individual to its style or an unexpected turn to its story. It’s a fun idea but the execution needed more fleshing out to leave more of a lasting impression.
Verdict: ✯✯½ | 5/10
Written and directed by Patrick Hopkins, Alice (Alice Orr-Ewing) is on edge, she’s desperate, on the verge of self-destruction when she finds her way into a room full of strangers where she slowly, reluctantly starts to pour her heart out.
Wildbird is set out like a theatre piece, almost a one woman show, focusing on a monologue, the presence of other people plays a part but all eyes are on Alice (Orr-Ewing). The performance by Alice Orr-Ewing is well done, it’s sad and heartfelt without delving too darkly or intensely, it retains a relatable edge. She holds a compelling presence, and with her dialogue taking up almost the entirety of the short, it holds your attention extremely well.
There’s a quality to its style which feels slightly reminiscent of Aleem Khan’s After Love. It has an intriguing air which lands somewhere between curious and mysterious. It’s sharply shot and has a strong focus, as well as having subtle editing work which nicely helps it keep moving forward. The only real downside is the comedy element, you can see it coming and it undermines the sincerity of Alice’s story. The tone of the monologue and its comedic turn don’t blend together smoothly, the former is simply too well done to then be accented by an easy laugh. Ignoring that one weak point, it’s a well shot, acted, edited and written short film.
Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10
The Grim Truth
Written and directed by Sam Comrie and co-written by Jakob Lewis Barnes and Eileen Wilson, with killing season drawing to a close, a documentary crew tails the Grim Reaper and his cold-blooded colleagues. Starring: Jonathan Whittington, Rachel Lanning, Beth Walker, Ian J. France, Adan Osborne, Harry Pearson, Sam Torr and Oscar Barnes.
The idea of a documentary following the grim reaper and his fellow monsters is a great concept and the way that it’s explored here shows a love of horror, mockumentaries and, more surprisingly, mumblecore. Although the success of its style will depend on your sense of humour. For those who have one to match it will likely work well but in a wider sense, its comedy might not be able to strike a strong or consistent enough tone. It takes the usual darkness associated with these characters and pushes them firmly into the everyday. You can see the intention to use that deep contrast but again, it will likely work better for some than others.
Its workplace setting is somewhat too humble, it doesn’t lean in to creating a charm for the characters. It restricts the typically menacing characteristics of these iconic figures, particularly the Grim Reaper. He has an odd balance of overt confidence and awkwardness which doesn’t quite work. The romance element it then brings through however could work well given a larger focus, akin to the tone of the What We Do in the Shadows series, but it sadly feels secondary and slightly rushed. You can easily see the intention and it’s a good concept but it pulled things a little too down to earth and lost the potential devilish charm.