Graycon (2017) Dir. Duaine Carma Roberts
A young couple who attempt to care for their virus infected daughter opens this brand new sci-fi drama from West Midlands filmmaker Duaine Carma Roberts.
After the young girl’s bloody cough turns worse, not even a pill administered by her father Joe (Andre Pierre) can save the poor child’s life, despite being convinced he has found a possible cure. The couple subsequently play the blame game before the background of the pill becomes a point of contention and although the mother attempts to move on with life, the father still questions why the cure failed.
In a parallel story, we are then introduced to the murky background of the virus and medication and are told that Joe’s friend Jordan (April Nerissa Hudson) is also attempting to save someone she loves. However, Jordan has betrayed murky businessman Ryan (James Edge) in her attempts to save her infected brother and the consequences of her decisions could be fatal to all involved.
As the antagonist Ryan, James Edge channels Tom Hiddleston-levels of evilness in an OTT performance that’s a joy to watch as he threatens more repercussions on the two scientists. Dressed in a trench-coat wardrobe, he delivers a fun role of ticks, stares and menacing hand gestures that balances the more serious dramatic turns from the talented Pierre and Hudson.
Soon a steam-punk time travel “device” called Graycon is introduced that Joe hopes can save his daughter in the past but both he and Jordan are increasingly troubled with the issues in the present. As Ryan tries to track them down he not only wants to get his hands on the device but to halt further development and make himself a rich man from any cure.
On the technical side, a simple piano score is effective and compliments the drama whilst also allowing a suitable level of tension to rise with its repeated musical motifs. If there was just one criticism it would be that the sound mix had a few volume “jumps” and the fighting, although well choreographed, could have utilised some stronger ‘punch’ noise-effects to go along with the brutal visuals – but both these are minor points in a top notch short.
The handheld camerawork maintained a sense of unease and moved in for close-ups when the drama’s intensity exploded into raised voices and fist fights yet it is the strong performances that are the film’s main draw throughout.
Both leads are first rate with Andre Pierre’s intensity as a father searching to correct past mistakes helping to centre the film and April Nerissa Hudson is given emotional scenes as a vulnerable sister trying to do right by her brother. Her poignant style is sensitive and strong and outstanding support also comes in the form of Adaya Henry, Romayah McCalla, Ackeem Gibbs and Nisaro Karim.
Overall, Roberts has provided a tight script with lashings of drama and action to help create an effective time-travel journey. The obligatory bouts of exposition – as are the norm in such sci-fi fare – are kept to a minimum but when they are required, Roberts uses exciting scenes, excellent performances and quirky dialogue delivery to keep things moving when information is being passed on.
A suitable open-to-interpretation ending is the perfect note to conclude the short with, and Graycon confirms that the best stories are ones where an audience can identify with well-rounded characters. And it hugely helps that Roberts has secured such high-quality actors to inhabit these roles. So with all the right elements in place, Graycon is a solid success which consistently delivers a satisfying drama and captures the imagination one moment at a time.
Midlands Movies Mike