The Movie Waffler Shorts Showcase - NORTH / OVER / GHOST TOUR | The Movie Waffler

Shorts Showcase - NORTH / OVER / GHOST TOUR

Another roundup of recent short films.

Reviews by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)

Death abides in this edition of Shorts Showcase. In Phil Sheerin’s North, adolescent Aaron barely copes as his terminally ill mother dies, while his extended families of uncles and aunts make plans and arrangements with a pragmatism that feels bluff and callous to Barry Keoghan’s devastated teenager. For a film that focuses on impending bereavement and untimely death, North is incredibly controlled and measured, never once milking or cheapening the genuine emotion that this effective short conjures. The setting of a small farm, an arena of functional cruelty and premature death, is authentically realised in olive and tawny shades, but a sharp contrast is provided by the mother’s (Janie Booth) death bed, where soft creams and heavenly whites compose the colour scheme, as if to exemplify the purity of Aaron’s love. It is here where Aaron, and his mother, attempt to be brave, but, inevitably, also where the teenager cracks when the sickness takes violent hold, breaking down into clipped ‘Mummy…!Mummy….!’s that belie his composure; the performances are so perfectly intimate that you feel like a trespasser for watching. In North, what is heart-breaking is Aaron’s lack of resignation, his innocent refusal to accept something which should have no business with his mother; while death comes for her, adulthood is arriving too early for him. The cruel brevity of North mirrors the tragic haste of fate itself in this beautiful short.

It is difficult to write about Jörn Threlfall’s dazzling Over without tumbling into spoiler territory, with this ingeniously constructed film carefully and patiently predicated upon a startling final reveal. Opening with a flat wide angle of a comfortable mock Tudor close, you can just barely make out the forecourt flowers left in memorial on the side of the road. There follows a series of nine retrograde sequences where we are progressively given clues as to the tragedy that occurred in this sleepy looking street, inviting us to piece together the intensely horrific events. The story is shot using blunt wide angles, which affect a ‘matter of fact’ distance from events, and also allow us to see the business-like manner of life carrying on around the catastrophe. The eventual reveal is shocking, but also cleverly provocative, requiring us to place a pressing topic (a contemporary issue that has been obfuscated by tabloid blether), within a context that is deeply humanising. Told in a manner that deftly utilises the medium, Over is intensely cinematic and an incredible achievement.

Ghost Tour
There is life after death in Erik Bloomquist’s horror quickie Ghost Tour, where in 1973, a tour guide is haunted by the inhabitants of a museum on the eve of its closure. Bloomquist is an accomplished film maker, and here employs his usual ‘cut above’ style, using lighting that exemplifies the antique browns and deepening shadows of the museum, and gauging convincing performances from his two leads (the elder brothers who run the institution) as we witness the final patrons partake in a tour which tells of an incident, some years ago, where 30 people died under strange circumstances. Bloomquist creates an immediate sense of unease, which gently perturbs throughout, building to a deliciously chilling final shock in this fun and frightening haunted house short.