The Movie Waffler Shorts Showcase - MALLAS, MA / THE RUNAROUND CLUB / WHAT JACK BUILT | The Movie Waffler


We examine another trio of recent shorts.

Reviews by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)

‘In the basement/ That's where it's at!’, so sang Etta James on her (unstoppable, incredible) 1966 collaboration with Sugar Pie DeSanto; In the Basement. James’ maxim is spookily followed by all three of this month’s shorts, which use the grimy underground setting to various narrative effect. Let’s find out what in the basement…

Mallas, MA
In Mallas, M.A., a winning entry for the 48 hour film project by ‘Team Fix it in Post’ (aka Sean Meehan directing Daniel Berube and Todd Mahoney’s script), we see a pair of con artists (Timothy J. Cox  and Maria Natapov) try to pull the wool over the eyes of a Massachusetts town by posing as paranormal investigators. The bumbling pair locate to a reputedly haunted basement, and discover a small child hiding amongst the darkness there. They decide to enlist her to help with their scam…
Although it’s pretty clear how it’s going to play out from the moment the kid shows up, Mallas M.A. is a highly impressive short, and not just because of its restricted production window. The sweeping shots of the town, the bright colour scheme that brings the eccentric characters to life, these would be notable in any film, as would the tone, which deftly veers from knockabout fun to affecting poignancy. Recommended.

The Runaround Club
The Runaround Club depicts another disparate soul hiding away in a basement (the basement is such a perfect movie location - full of shadows, and the secrets we’d rather hide away: I wish I had one. An attic just isn’t quite the same). Handsome crim Lucas (Ariel Zuckerman) is forced to take refuge there upon the unexpected return of the family (dad and two teen daughters) who live in the house he and his partner are robbing. Dad, it turns out, is a controlling bully, and guess where the younger daughter, fleeing from the argument her sister and old man are having, ends up hiding too?
The Runaround Club is an intriguing crime drama; the sort where ethical principles are composed of darkening shadows, rather than stark black and white doctrines. Matt Rindini carefully realises Andrew Gleeson’s precise script, creating a fascinating rhythm with patterned dialogue and character interaction. An absorbing morality play.

What Jack Built
Timothy J. Cox of Mallas M.A. fame finds himself in yet another basement, as he constructs a contraption of unknown purpose in Matthew and Ross Mahler’s What Jack Built. In a dialogue free performance, we see the titular Jack agonise over blueprints and diagrams, eventually creating a strange box like structure in the well composed montage which constitutes the first half of this film. Set to some extremely minged out electro, Jack is maniacal, driven, and we are curious as to his end game. The score (by Matthew) flips to a gothic Goblin-esque intensity as Jack leads us into the woods, where he places his weird box, linking it to the basement with a series of wires. What on earth (or beyond) is he hunting?
A unique and original little film that is compelling for its cinematic intensity- the motion of the film is driven by the disturbing and magnetic central performance of Cox, and the electric, kinetic editing of the film makers; like Jack, they have assembled a beguiling mechanism.

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