4 Feb 2013

Origin ★★★★☆

Review of 'Origin' which can be found here or here on Vimeo.

Length: 14:16
Written & directed by Danny Stack
Genre: Drama
Date: 2012
Rating: ★★★★☆

Logline: A couples distancing marriage faces make or break when their teenage son suffers from a supernatural disease. 

This feels like part family drama part horror film. But where one genre is kind of rounded out not too badly, the other is left incomplete. With a great set up that points the audience quite directly into zombie territory; creepy music, creepy woodlands, unexplained bite etc, you're left expecting one thing but are delivered another. That can often be a good thing. The mixing of genres here adds complex layers and brings a refreshing outlook but what can often happen when doing this, is the lack of indecision over the overall genre can also make for a confusing film. So while the family drama seems to get resolved, the supernatural element (which is far by far the more interesting part) doesn't get nearly enough explanation or resolution. 

There's a few inconsistencies in the plot which will leave an audience asking more questions than are answered. The dad huffs about waiting till he's had his tea before taking Freddy to the hospital but then leaves half of the meal uneaten in order to get a move on. Freddy aggressively (and out of character) storms out of the house one minute, then collapses weakly on the floor the next (and again later when Freddy looks like he's at deaths door in the hospital he still somehow manages to gather the strength to go for a trek into the woods). Also the doctors unconcern for Freddy disturbing skin problems and his parents inability to phone for an ambulance after finding him in the woods make these characters come across as stupid and incompetent and therefore unlikeable. I'm a sucker for logic and things like that are detrimental to the complex emotional story that's trying to be told here. A disjointed family being brought back together through tragedy seems to be the central theme but the lack of satisfying answers means this is ultimately a lot of set up with little pay off and feels more like the first act of a feature than a completed short film. 

Well known actors Lee Ross and Katy Carmichael play the couple whose marriage is hanging on a thread but neither feel particularly devoted to the characters they're playing. Ross is the more naturalistic of the two. His character feels secondary to Carmichael's but shows more of an arc. His emotional journey is more evident on screen, I enjoyed his reminiscence scene in the hospital for example, while Carmichael's arc is much more subtle and more of an inner transformation, but which shows equal depth. 

Camera quality is good and the production is pretty competent. Quick edits and nice camera movement, interesting compositions and focus pulls help give this a professional edge. There's been good efforts done by the set designers as what could have been many a blank wall and door space has been well decorated to make it more visually interesting. The soundtrack, especially in the opening and closing sequences, is well suited and rich in atmosphere and really makes this stand out. 

Overall, the family dramatics took precedence over the supernatural element too much for me and it feels more like these characters are just about to be thrown into a much more interesting and exciting world. So this ends far too soon in my opinion. Roll on part two. 

Best Bit: (I seem to say this more often than not)  Love the soundtrack. 

Worst Bit: No supernatural explanations given leaving lots of questions unanswered.

Final thought: For a concerned mother, she does a terrible job of cleaning up that bite don't you think? 

Read a condensed review of this film on Twitter here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the in-depth review, Lee! You got me: the film is a teaser for the feature film but I tried to make it an intriguing stand-alone short that focused on the characters rather than the gore. :)