I know many of you wonderful readers must think that I’m rooting for failure. I really want artists to do a good job and not be terrible. The short film is the farm team for many writers, directors, and actors. It forces you to have a clear idea, vibrant characters, be economical with your dialogue, and how to show not tell. This short was 8 minutes and change and it was awesome for the first four minutes. Then…..
The film has a great hook: without any dialogue, we see that the MC is a Twitter troll. He gets a knock at the door. She’s a pilgrim at the door and he proceeds to creep on her in at least three ways. This is a good setup. Then, a witch hunter from the past appears at the creep’s door with an arrest warrant. I’m getting a great twilight zone feel.
The artist shifts gears with a twist that it’s two of his Internet victims in Party City outfits who want to hang him. Then, they hang him. This is so anti-climatic. I get that he murdered their reputations so they murder him IRL. I could see this happening. If someone is recording someone to make them infamous, I could see someone thinking- well I might as well kill this guy. We always work under the assumption that people will play by the rules. This is a stupid way to be because we have obvious examples that it’s not true i.e. Road Rage.
The reveal didn’t pop the narrative suspense balloon with a bang, it deflated it … slowly and sadly. It was more fun for the pilgrims to be ghosts summoned for revenge than two people with a grudge who would be easily caught. Maybe….Maybe, it could have worked if it were clearer through a scene or two what this man had done that warranted his murder. The heroine did mumble something about what he did, but it was rushed exposition. It did not feel justified.
The writer grasped the idea that a payoff is critical in a story and especially a short, but to have a payoff – you need a pay-in. We did get the idea that the MC was a jerk, BUT hanging a man on his porch and seeing his asphyxiated face was not earned. Revenge stories are great, but the target has to be more than a jerk. We need to be clear with a slow burn that this man had harmed the killers so greatly that we agree with them that this guy needed killing. It felt unfair, not disturbing. It felt awkward and disappointing.
It’s a shame because the writer has some talent, but not enough.