Thursday, 12 May 2016

Review: Short Film- Silently Within Your Shadow

A review of Scott Lyus's Indie Short Film, Silently Within Your Shadow,
I am a huge fan of short films, when handled correctly, they can deliver a surprisingly effective punch whilst at the same time showcasing Directorial and Writing talent. Short Films are a fantastic way for creative talents to showcase their abilities and leverage to a larger audience. The time duration can be a serious problem though, as without much room to develop either characterisation or in depth story line, the film duration can seem meandery and vapid. I have seem amazing examples of the genre, evoking powerful images that live long in the memory. But I have also experienced painful films that have failed to deliver on their promise and fallen wide of the mark, you just don't know what you're going to get until you watch. Such is the magic of the film industry.

Silently Within Your Shadow tells the story of Lucette who has a fairly run of the mill ventriloquist act and how her obsessive relationship with Hugo, the dummy, (her plastic pal who's fun to be with) impacts on her real life relationship with her boyfriend. Sophie Tergeist and Byron Fernandes are believable as the young couple with the majority of the films duration being set within their modest London flat. The realism was enhanced by cinematography that delivers a straight shot approach and by resisting the temptation of overly artistic camera work the impression of sitting in the lounge with the characters is effective.

However, Silently Within Your Shadow has a problematic flaw and it exists at the very heart of its premise. For me and, perhaps because I am a seasoned horror film devotee, there is nothing new with the "ventriloquists dummy with blood lust and jealousy" concept. I've seen it delivered with the Child's Play franchise (possessed doll) and more recently with Dead Silence in 2007. I seem to recall a Buffy The Vampire episode in Season 1 that dealt with the exact same concept. My feeling is that Scott Lyus has really painted himself into an artistic corner with this one and I truly struggled with any new or innovative ideas on the plastic dummy that kills premise. This was brought into sharp focus when the newspaper story was relayed to Lucette by Jace, her increasingly agitated boyfriend. In this story a girl, travelling late on the London Underground, is asked to leave the train by a stranger sitting opposite. It transpires that he believed the, seemingly, comatose female slumped next to her was in fact dead and being held up by the two gentleman sitting with her. Now, that would have made an amazing short film and my attention was grabbed with images of this shocking revelation. The disappointment I felt when Jace then moves on to a BOGOF advert for a well known soft drink was so profound that I lost all interest and never regained it. Intentional though this was to illustrate Jace's unemotional and uncaring attitude the unfortunate downside was that it also served in raising my expectation and then not delivering. More than that, it actually jarred me out of the film completely and spoilt any atmosphere that had been built up. To be honest, I was rendered into a state of mind that I just didn't care anymore what happened. I wont give the ending away for you but it came as no real surprise and the final scenes lacked any bite or interest.

Silently Within Your Shadow could not be classed as a bad film it just wasn't the best that I think Scott Lyus could produce. I really am interested in seeing more of his work but, for me, this was a film that does not do enough to raise itself above all the other hundreds of short films.

Poster credit: Annabelle Lecter

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