I love short films. Don’t get me wrong, there’s an infinite amount of things to love about features as well, but I’m in love with the idea of having to tell a story and invoke emotions and tone within a small amount of time, it impresses me very much and for each of our Short Film Roundup reviews, I wanted to shine the spotlight (so to speak) on short films I’ve come across that really stand out. The majority of them will obviously be genre shorts but don’t be surprised if you read about short films that play in the drama or comedy playgrounds as well, because really, why limit ourselves?
HEAD (Dir. Ruben Pla)
CHEAP THRILLS/CONTRACTED actor Ruben Pla gives viewers one interesting and downright creepy short film with his most recent directorial effort, HEAD. Telling the story of man who’s in a verbally abusive relationship with his girlfriend’s gypsy cursed severed head, Pla’s film is one that bypasses the easy route, opting for tone and mood over cheap laughs, a choice that pays off from the beginning to the very final shot. While it seems like its concept would easily be a silly one, HEAD never steers into that lane, giving its viewers a serious and very Cronenberg-like drama where “forever” comes back to haunt the film’s protagonist (played by CONTRACTED/THE MIND’S EYE‘s Matt Mercer) and also shows off a very mean side of THE HAUNTING OF WHALEY HOUSE‘s Arielle Brachfeld, who seems to be enjoying the hell out of putting Mercer’s character through absolute hell.
Led by two great performances and some really impressive direction from Pla, HEAD is a short film that is not only entertaining, but one that would be absolutely great to see adapted into a feature at some point. The mood is aces in this one and it really showcases Pla’s abilities behind the camera, so here’s hoping that Ruben gives us a directorial followup in the near future.
INTRODUCING PARKER DOWD (Dir. Lauren Ashley Carter)
Actors doing a hell of a job directing projects seems to be the theme in this roundup, with JUG FACE/DARLING‘s Lauren Ashley Carter stepping into the director’s chair to give viewers a short film that is not only highly entertaining but also VERY funny. Written by Rebecca Blaine Carton, INTRODUCING PARKER DOWD tells the hilarious story of Katie Schadenberg (played by Blaine Carton), an actress who receives a call from her agent (a great Lewis Black) informing her of an audition for a dog flea shampoo commercial. In her excitement and thinking that it would help her chances, Katie mentions that she has a dog, Parker, and asks if she can bring him to the audition. Soon after, as Parker’s career takes off, Katie’s goes down the drain, along with everything else in her life.
It’s great to see something that is both lighthearted and humorous, a film that is led by an excellent performance by Rebecca Blaine Carton and one that shows how much potential Carter has as a director. Taking the questions of who owns who and who is the actual pet in the relationship and running with them, the film is witty and as sly as a fox, putting its lead through absolute hell in everything from getting dog crap thrown in her face to losing her mind when Parker gets casts in an all dog remake of My Soul Called Life. With a funny script, hilarious performances and some very Woody Allen-like direction from Lauren Ashley Carter, INTRODUCING PARKER DOWD is a short film that is definitely one to watch out for.