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Shorts Showcase - SAVAGE / THE COBBLESTONE CORRIDOR / CAPTCHA

TMW takes a look at a trio of recent shorts.


Reviews by Benjamin Poole




Savage
Presumably beginning life as a superior student project, Savage is nonetheless a slick exercise in slasher horror. A young teen in a nice big house is stalked by a masked assailant, with the strong hint that the aggressor is on a vengeful mission to bloodily fulfil unfinished business - a burnt cd in the figure’s hands bears the sharpied message ‘payback is a bitch’.
The plucky heroine is pursued through her home with the usual jumps and spills, until Savage’s dark secrets are eventually outed in a series of unpleasant twists; the truth hurts, especially when it’s delivered with a baseball bat. While the film’s pocket money budget is awkwardly evident in its use of ambient lighting, and the occasionally ropey performance, overall this is a reasonably effective stalk and slash. Unusual angles are used resourcefully, and the sound design, while overpowering at times, is also fairly forceful. As a short and sour take on an I Know What You Did Last Summer style slasher revenger, Savage is typical genre output, but not without flair. The short is freely available to view below, so use it as an amuse-bouche before the bigger bite of, say, an All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (another teen slasher that focuses on secrets and poisonous peer groups).


The Cobblestone Corridor
In The Cobblestone Corridor we see another group of kids endeavouring to get to the root of a crime, although this time the genre codes are strictly 1940s noir, replanted to a leafy modern day prep school, where Allan, the tenacious editor of the school paper, attempts to uncover the murky circumstances of a faculty member’s sacking.
The amusing pastiche of '40s crime tropes is a delight from start to end; Allan’s would-be gumshoe voiceover intones of how his investigative resolve ‘took down the all-girl fight club’ and ‘identified the perv who spiked the punch at the homecoming dance’, and there’s the pleasing details of the short’s iconography- close ups on typewriters (!), ticking clocks, a jazz inflected soundtrack, etc. While the appropriation of these features is witty, the film also has genuine intrigue at its heart - to paraphrase Allan’s imperative to his reporters, ‘this is a story…a good one’. The performances are also uniformly superb, the cast savouring the script’s hard boiled eloquence as if it were smoke from a Lucky Strike. As a final bonus, The Cobblestone Corridor’s conflation of archaic forms within a modern setting transpires to be no mere (barred) window dressing either, as the pastiche becomes a metaphor for the film’s themes of print media vs new technologies; there is method to this mockery. The Cobblestone Corridor was written, directed and produced by Eric C. Bloomquist, who also stars here as Allan; to cite his character a final time (the film is endlessly quotable), ‘ya did good, kid’.


Captcha
Staying within the shadowy confines of the noir style, Ed Tracy’s Captcha is set in a steampunked 1940s London, wherein Katya (Amy Beth Hayes) is a spy, deployed some years back to infiltrate the life of poor Mel (Arthur Darvill). Her mission involved the seduction of Mel and his subsequent ‘spiking’, a process that entailed placing an implant inside Mel’s neck, a bug that tricks him into falling for Katya (all the better for her to permeate his life, although she seemed to be doing fine anyway, with Hayes’ glacial femme fatale beauty at her disposal…). Problem is, years later, Mel’s usefulness is now fulfilled, and it’s time for the unsuspecting patsy to be got rid of …and, more complicated yet, Katya discovers that in the interim she’s developed true feelings for her mark. Can she break her training to save Mel? And will he still have the hots for her when the device is removed?
Again, within Captcha there is witty pastiche (a particularly charming call back is the car chase enacted with a clearly artificial back drop), and the short’s inky cinematography and hard, architectural lines invoke a London by gaslight that is visually arresting and entirely suited to the spy dynamic of the plot (props to production designer Anne Gry Skovdal and cinematographer Charlie Grainger). Through the shadows of parody, however, the film’s genuine emotion shines through, with strong performances and well-judged action brought to the spotlight. Captivating.


SAVAGE (Full movie)



THE COBBLESTONE CORRIDOR (trailer)



CAPTCHA (trailer; you can purchase the film plus a bundle of extras at www.wearecolony.com/captcha/)





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