Thursday, 29 March 2012

Short Film Review - Familiar (2012 - Dir. Richard Powell)

Short films are never as satisfying as full length features but they can highlight the work of promising new creative teams. This is the case with Familiar

Familiar is definitely a film of two halves. The first half is fairly horrific. We get to hear the inner thoughts of a middle-aged man. His daughter is leaving home soon and he is looking forward to starting the rest of his life. He doesn't particularly like his wife and feels like she's held him back. Then she breaks some news to him. She's pregnant.

The initial section will probably resonate with a lot of people. It evokes similar emotions to the end sequence of Heavenly Creatures, where you have a character that is content with their life but you know that someone else is plotting something generally unpleasant against them. I audibly said, "Oh no!" a couple of times when his schemes were revealed. The acting is mainly good, apart from a very strange piece of moustache twitching. It's a definite talent but possibly not that appropriate.

Eventually, schizophrenia is suspected as it becomes evident that he has two voices inside his head. This was all very promising and I was really looking forward to what was coming next. 

Then it all goes severely pear-shaped and standard issue. Body horror. I like a bit of body horror. Who doesn't? But after such a strong build up, giving us an insight into the mind of someone suffering from mental illness, was body horror the right path to take? There's a nice bit of gore, but again did it need it? The Wicker Man has shown that the most horrific films can be completely bloodless. This could have done the same. The time devoted to bloodletting could have been used to further examine the psyche of this moustachioed fellow and produced a more satisfying result.

So, think of it as two films, the first one great and the second one... okayish. Short films are a showcase for new talent and Familiar definitely shows a lot of promise. My review score is based on other short films. (Compared to the Virgin Shorts put on before films in England, this is a world-beater.)

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