icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo Instagram FILM FREEWAY LOGO

blog

Movie news, reviews, features and more thoughts coming soon...

By midlandsmovies, Sep 20 2019 10:55AM




Midlands Review - Death Knock


Directed by Jason Croxall


2019


A man takes a deep breath in a car before exiting his vehicle and bravely walking up to a house in a suburban street at the start of new dark drama Death Knock, from local filmmaker Jason Croxall.


Grabbing his bag he wanders slowly to the door before we cut back to an office where a stern-looking lady (Evadne Fisher) sits behind a desk and says, “I need you to go and do a death knock”.


What’s that? Well, she explains that a family has lost their daughter in a hit and run accident and we discover the man is a journalist who is expected to grab an interview with the grieving family.


The reporter (Ryan J Harvey) tries to offer some resistance, suggesting a phone call would be easier, but the hard-nosed boss insists and indicates she could hire someone who would be willing.


A nice floating camera and cinematic sheen to the image give the film a movie gloss and the awkward situation the protagonist has been drawn into is nicely set up and explained. Whilst at the same time, the film creates mystery from the outset as to what could unfold once the door is eventully opened. If at all.


An inconsolable mother (Cherry Bagnall) answers and we immediately feel a sense of intrusion into this personal space. However, the man convinces her an interview could help her cause in catching the culprit.


Reluctantly agreeing to the suggestion we enter her living room. Here, director Croxall brings attention to the minutiae of the scene. A framed photo of a lost loved-one, a reporter’s notebook and an air of unsaid tension hangs in the air, portrayed excellently by the subtle movements from the actors.


As the conversation progresses, we are steered towards further friction between the two. Increasing the anxiety and stress, a mis-phrased question leads to further clashes at this most difficult of times.


A powerful short, Death Knock has a unique idea and sensitively tackles issues of grief-stricken parents and some of the shady practices of journalists to get a scoop. Leaving us with a sense of ambiguity at the conclusion the short is a successful examination of media morals and individual integrity.


Michael Sales



Watch the full short below:




By midlandsmovies, Sep 10 2019 09:25AM



Midlands Review - Keep Breathing


Directed by Mark Corden


2019


Siska Media


Keep Breathing is a new independent short film exploring the consequences of a drunken night spent together between a man and a woman, highlighting the complications and emotional aftermath from a night of questionable sexual congress.


Director Mark Corden starts the film after the event, we see a man (Damien Molony) attempting to fix a broken lift inside an office building. Meanwhile we are also introduced to a woman (Emmeline Hartley) who is busy working away at her desk in the same building. As the man finally mends the lift to make his way down to the reception area, we see the woman finishing work rushing to catch the lift, which is kindly held so she can enter.


They glance up instantly recognising each other, and after a moment passes the lift breaks down again and with the power off they are now trapped together. The man radios his colleague for assistance but this will take a few minutes.


What follows in the short is an awkward, dry exchange which he mistakes for flirting. They discuss their first meet and how much of a fun time he had, however the woman balks - she is uncomfortable with both his advances and the claustrophobic setting.


To calm her down he tells her to “keep breathing” and goes to comfort her, his contact catapults the audience into her memory of the night they met.


The grey, airless setting is then replaced with a colourful, vibrant club atmosphere. Our protagonists meet at the bar, their eyes fixated on one another. A fun night of dancing, drinking and flirting ensues ending with a kiss and an exit to the nearest taxi. Corden and editor Drew Davis move skilfully within the film, briskly switching from their night out to the tense elevator where our main characters break down that evening’s events.

Stumbling out of the taxi and into her flat, the viewer can start to tragically see where this night is heading. The next few minutes make for an uneasy watch as Corden isn't afraid of showing those dark, tough moments as the woman is pressured into sleeping with this man. Molony and Hartley give great performances throughout Keep Breathing but it's here where they showcase their talent, turning their irresistible chemistry we had seen minutes before into something more alarming and daunting.


An impressive element within the film is its ability to ground itself within most of the audience’s experiences with life. The main characters are unnamed, they could represent all of us at any time. And not too many people can say they haven't had too much to drink in a club and clambered into a taxi with someone they've just met. Making Keep Breathing universally familiar will no doubt resonate massively with the audience, a huge achievement for the film.


Written by Corden, Hartley and Tommy Draper, their words manage to capture a real issue that has been ongoing for decades but seems more relevant now than ever. Bringing the world to life on screen is cinematographer Beatriz Delgado Mena who gives it that sought after cinematic shine, making it a film that looks at home on the big screen. I enjoyed noticing certain behaviours which were explored and magnified. The unnecessary contact with someone or invading one’s personal space – these small moments haven't been often captured on a short film I’ve seen before.


However, Corden, along with his collaborators, keeps the film in a neutral space. He seems to want to educate and listen rather than lecture and sermonize. Both characters’ reactions are up for discussion which will undoubtedly create much needed debate amongst the audience. Surprisingly Keep Breathing isn't a clear black and white, it is a grey, subtle study of consent in the modern world and how if ignored can have a vast, prolonged impact on the parties involved.


Breath-taking, tense, topical, Keep Breathing is the best short film I've seen for years, it sets a benchmark for how strong and culturally relevant modern filmmaking can be. Watch it, question it, watch it again with friends & family. This film demands to be seen.


Guy Russell


Twitter: @budguyer


Future screenings of Keep Breathing to look out for.


Underwire Festival ‘Boundaries’ programme:

Weds 18th September 6:45pm

The Castle Cinema (Tickets available on sale on their website)


BFI London Film Festival ‘In An Age of Consent’ programme:

4th Oct, 20:40 Odeon (Tottenham Court Road)

6th Oct, 12:20 Cine Lumiere

Tickets for London Film Festival go on sale on 12th September.


For more info, follow the official Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages @kbshortfilm

By midlandsmovies, Aug 31 2019 10:33AM



Midlands Review - Off Grid


Directed by Carl Timms


2019


Dark Matter Films


How far will you go to protect your loved ones is a question asked in Off Grid, an impressive new short from Midlands filmmaker Carl Timms.


Opening with an unknown man in the woods at night, he is concerned for an injured woman whose clothes are splattered with blood. We are immediately shocked as we are then introduced to a bearded stranger in a green jacket who strikes the man hard with a shovel.


Strangely though, before passing away the man’s eyes glow a mysterious blue colour before he falls to ground as his friend (Kate Davies-Speak) escapes further into the woods. Yet the fight isn’t over as our attacker tracks down the frightened female, hits her and then her similarly blue eyes fade out to darkness.


So, Off Grid begins fantastically with an intense and intriguing opening sequence filmed at night using great cinematography from Paul Angier. And therefore the film impresses even before the main title appears. I’d advise local filmmakers to take note here as an exciting opening for your story (no matter what the genre) can create mystery using characters in conflict. Later the brief credits are laid over more footage to move along the story. So no time is wasted. If you’re condensing your story for a short-film format then condense most other things too.


Cutting to dawn, the man is John Tanner (played by Game of Thrones’ James Cosmo) who re-sets a bloodied bear trap before returning to a shack in the woods where bed-bound wife Grace (Alison Steadman) discusses with him about the safety of their refuge.


And here the film switches its sympathies from the young victims to the older protagonist – who is the real threat here? As John moves body bags to makeshift graves, he discovers his female victim’s body has disappeared, but we are quickly thrust into a tense moment as another suspicious stranger (Marc Bayliss) arrives and offers to work for a meal.


The devil is in the detail in Off Grid too. The hair and make-up are noticeably apt, the audience really gets a sense of the situation and surroundings from the subtle clothing and dirt and grime along with some gory special effects.


With the stranger welcomed into the shack, their cordial discussion over the table leads to an intense confrontation that instils further paranoia about the characters’ intentions and who each say they are.


The film reminded me a little of 2017 horror It Comes at Night by Trey Edward Shults. The infection, protection, a remote cabin and the constant fear of an unknown presence as a couple try to stay alive are all present but this is a far more engaging film that that (see our review here). The paranoia of the unknown seen in Off Grid also appears in 2019’s The Hole in the Ground (review here) which funnily enough also starred another haunting performance from James Cosmo.


And so as more blue light appears into the cabin, a final fight for survival ensues and Timms has expertly created set-ups and pay-offs which lead the film to a satisfying conclusion.


In the end, Off Grid is one of the most impressive shorts from the region in 2019. Timms has built upon his 2017 short STILL (review here) and develops the dark themes into a fascinating flick.


With twists, turns and a shocking final revelation, the 20-minute film is ultimately a stunning success for everyone involved. And the innovative shots, absorbing narrative and captivating performances from the cast make Off Grid an astonishing achievement that mixes high quality drama with spectacular shocks.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Aug 28 2019 10:13AM

Review - Movie catch up blog 2019 - Part 4


In this collection of recent reviews we take a look at ANGEL HAS FALLEN, KILLER'S ANONYMOUS, IN FABRIC and THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK.


Read on to hear our thoughts on some of these new 2019 cinema and dvd releases.



Angel Has Fallen (2019) Dir. Ric Roman Waugh

A frankly out-of-shape Gerard Butler returns in this third instalment in the Fallen film series following Olympus Has Fallen (the number 10 entry of our worst films of 2013) and London Has Fallen (the number ONE entry in our worst films of 2016) again playing secret service agent Mike Banning. Suffering from a form of PTSD, he protects US President (Morgan Freeman) from a drone attack but is implicated in the crime itself. Cue a tedious game of cat and mouse between an on-the-run Banning and his previous colleagues. He’s also chased by forces “unknown” (it’s so obvious from the outset who the culprits are) who want to get to Banning to finish the job and execute their conspiracy.


What we have then is an unexciting, monotonous and dreary “action” film whose 2-hour runtime feels like 2 weeks. Jada Pinkett as an FBI agent spouts tedious action-film clichés passing itself off as dialogue and its plot has been done numerous times before as seen in the Bourne franchise, Sentinel (2006) and most of M:I series as an operative is framed for a crime he didn’t commit whilst others attempt to bring them to justice.


Positives? Although I’m struggling to find many, when Banning meets his father (Nick Nolte) in his remote wood cabin, the film is given some much-needed pleasure with a tongue-in-cheek tone and some nifty banter. A mid-credits scene has to be seen to be believed too, so if you manage to make it to the end, stick around for that. I also thought the explosions were pretty spectacular with some stuntmen really taking a battering as they are thrown around. But the woeful quick editing on the fights makes them hard to follow and one brawl in a car at night is frankly unwatchable and shouldn’t be in a movie with this budget. In the end it may just be the best of the series, stay with me on this, as the others were beyond terrible and this is simply mostly bad. Action fans may find something in this that I didn’t get out of it, but for general audiences, the franchise should fall into retirement as soon as possible.


Killers Anonymous (2019) Dir. Martin Owen

This American crime thriller film directed by Martin Owen tells the story of a group of assassins being brought together in a secret hideaway situated in a London church after the assassination of an American Senator on UK soil. Opening with an elongated conversation between Gary Oldman and Jessica Alba – filmed strangely, as characters talk to the camera Peep Show-style – the group finally congregates in a small set of rooms as they share their backgrounds and “days since last killing” stories like an AA meeting. The film wastes its talented cast which includes a delicious Tommy Flanagan as Markus, an excellent Rhyon Nicole Brown as Alice, a subtle performance from MyAnna Buring as Joanna and stalwart Tim McInnerny as Calvin who all did their best with some awful dialogue. It could have worked as a more serious chamber piece like 12 Angry Men (1957) or pushed the envelope and gone further into the knowing horror of the more recent Would You Rather (2012) but in the end it sticks to a bland unsatisfying middle-ground. How Oscar-winner Gary Oldman got involved in this is anyone's guess and it most reminded me of the darkly comic Inside No. 9 both in flat TV look and its eclectic soundtrack. In the end though, what could have worked as a one-off ITV drama is not cinematic enough for the ideas it has. And sadly this more than tiresome movie tries to be a big screen blockbuster but is much more of a lacklustre little screen disappointment.

★★



In Fabric (2019) Dir. Peter Strickland

A horror comedy infused with Italian ‘Giallo’ genre stylings, In Fabric is a new movie featuring, bear with me, a killer dress. A ridiculous conceit, the film in fact uses this far-fetched idea to look at consumerism, desires and hypnotising capitalism. It stars Oscar-nominated Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Sheila, whose awful managers and worse dates increase her feeling of loneliness since her recent divorce. She purchases a crimson dress at the enigmatic Dentley and Soper's store from assistant Miss Luckmoore (an incredibly creepy Fatma Mohamed) who appears part of a ritualistic coven. The cursed dress leaves a strange rash on Sheila as the supernatural piece of clothing causes havoc with a washing machine and attempts to murder Sheila’s son’s girlfriend – played by a welcome but all too brief appearance from Gwendoline Christie. A sharp turn in the narrative though is where the film started to lose its way a little. The dress ends up in possession of washing machine repair man Reg Speaks (Leo Bill) whose story of hypnotism is far less interesting and developed than Sheila’s. In Fabric’s tone however seems not only to be hinting at classic Italian horrors but also by very British influences too. I saw hints of the satirical website Scarfolk Council, who is in itself influenced by the panic-filled sensibilities of 1970/80s government health and safety films and iconography. And In Fabric at times seems to be what Matthew Holness was attempting in Possum (2018) which was a snail-paced disappointment. A beautiful looking film of strong colours and lighting and a terrific cast playing bizarre and peculiar characters, In Fabric suffers most with its plotline switch at the halfway point, dismissing almost all of what came before it. Fans of the cinematic influences will lap it up but for me, it’s a slightly missed, but to be fair with a lot to like, opportunity to bring Suspiria to suburbia.

★★★



The Standoff of Sparrow Creek (2019) Dir. Henry Dunham

Written and directed by Henry Dunham in his feature debut The Standoff at Sparrow Creek tackles current U.S. obsessions with gun ownership, responsibility, media blame and political and social paranoia. Throwing us straight in, James Badge Dale plays ex-cop Gannon who has joined a local militia and ends up investigating his own group after one of them is suspected of a mass shooting at a police funeral. Information comes in sporadically over the police radio meaning a time limit is set, and in their secluded warehouse base one of their machine guns is suspiciously missing. Creating a sense of dread and hidden motives, the film is set almost solely in this location and using the fantastic conceit, the group is faced into confronting this situation with the audience trapped in this mystery along with them. The cinematography mixes dark shadows and spotlights as the questions fly and these help create the best scenes which involve Gannon interrogating members using his previous experience. A small but powerful indie feature, its 88 minutes gives the movie a swift pace with more depth than most small dramas. But it doesn’t let up either with a multitude of talented performances from the excellent cast playing distrustful characters obsessed with protecting their “freedoms”.

★★★★



Michael Sales



By midlandsmovies, Aug 20 2019 07:48PM



Midlands Review - Can’t Hide It


Directed by Richard Miller & Grant Archer


2019


Body in the Box Productions


From Body in the Box Productions comes Can’t Hide It, the latest short film offering from the mind of Richard Miller.


The film starts with a woman sat at her dressing table, music playing heavily below, she stares at the mirror directly in front and deeply into her eyes. She seems distressed but we don’t know why. She lowers a festive Christmas jumper over herself, fixes her hair and proceeds to join the rest of the party.


The woman is revealed to be Kim (Esther McAuley) who is in the middle of hosting a Christmas party with her partner (Gavin Fowler). As the guests weave in and out, smiles plastered across their faces we see Kim at ease but with an uncomfortable vibe surrounding her.


We as the audience can detect something is not right, especially as Christmas is supposed to be a joyous occasion and not a tense, strained one.


Over the next few shots we see the couple making their way to a hospital, and as they arrive they gather their thoughts before they head to their appointment. It is apparent now one of them is ill, which is revealed to be Kim.


A nurse prepares her for chemotherapy and places a “cold cap” onto her scalp, this is designed to hopefully diminish the chances of hair loss during the procedure. She doesn’t want to lose one shred of herself to this disease. This is all shot on-location at the hospital in Burton, which adds extra credence to the picture.


Kim calls her parents to inform them of the news, something she hasn’t done until her first session of chemotherapy is over. An understandably emotionally charged Kim struggles as she explains what she will be going through over the next few months. It is tough viewing as we see a determined, strong woman enduring such a tough time.


Directors Richard Miller & Grant Archer successfully manage to portray a “real” relationship between the couple and their reaction to living with this disease. Kim’s partner remains positive and optimistic to support her, as well as throwing in the odd inappropriate joke about the disease to make her laugh. His role in the film is an important one, and the directors make sure to highlight how helpless the other half can feel whilst their loved one is in pain which is a refreshing take to see.


Can’t Hide It benefits from an absolutely powerhouse of a performance by Esther McAuley who deserves heaps of praise for her heart-breaking portrayal of Kim. Her chemistry with Gavin Fowler is also notable, and without this I doubt the film would have resonated as much as it did with this viewer.


I was familiar with Miller and Archer’s previous works such as the brilliant, darkly comic short film The Exchange that they directed a few years ago. However, Can’t Hide It is their best work I have seen so far. It is sometimes hard to look at the screen as it is that moving but only gentle hands could effortlessly move from scene to scene with precision like pace without sacrificing authenticity of the situation.


As the credits rolled I found myself wishfully hoping Kim had beaten it or was at least on the path to, these fictional characters are written with such care by Richard Miller that they could be any one of us or any one we know, it is something a lot of us have experienced first hand or second hand but a film that demands to be seen regardless.


Guy Russell

Twitter @BudGuyer

By midlandsmovies, Aug 16 2019 02:39PM



Review - Once Upon A Time in Hollywood (2019) Dir. Quentin Tarantino


Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a new film fable from Quentin Tarantino which harks back to a Hollywood cinema golden age yet mixes the loss of 50s innocence with 60s counter culture in the pulp-way only he knows how to.


Tarantino launches us into his screen obsessions (and in this film in particular, his love for the small screen) with a 4:3 black and white interview of TV Western star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his friend/stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt).


Jumping forward to 1969 L.A. Dalton is concerned about his less-than-stellar career as the up and coming actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) moves in next door to him with her director partner Roman Polanski. Whilst the paranoid Dalton meets with agent Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino) who encourages him to get into Italian Westerns, the laid-back Booth reminisces about a time he fought Bruce Lee whilst also meandering around town as a handyman seemingly without a care.


The Bruce Lee fight is one of the many comedic scenes and Tarantino’s fingerprints are all over the film which acts like a highlight reel of all his usual obsessions – Westerns (Django), martial arts (Kill Bill) and hippies and stunt-men (Death Proof) to mention just a few. But at 161 minutes oh boy is it long again, but at least it doesn’t take place in just one room like the disappointing chamber piece that was The Hateful Eight (our review).


As Rick Dalton tries his best to stake a claim in the movie world in Italy, Booth is enamoured by a hitchhiking hippie who takes him to the Spahn Ranch – the real-life desert commune location of the Manson Family cult. Radicalized by leader Charles Manson's teachings and unconventional lifestyle, Tarantino has brawly Brad searching for the ranch’s owner in one of the film’s best scenes. With tension and fear the director surprises the audience with the scene’s reveal whilst he returns with a violent ending typical of the director.


Tarantino also expertly plays with the medium of cinema too. We begin by watching the making-of a movie, but it literally becomes the movie in the absence of the film-crew and behind-the-scenes tech guys. But they are soon brought back in by Tarantino as he moves his camera back into place for a second take. And archive footage is mixed in with his usual eclectic soundtrack which feature classic hits from the era whilst almost 2 hours in, he decides to throw in a voiceover for good measure. Why not!


Perhaps the only director today to get away with such arrogant shifts in style, the film is so well made you can’t stop from watching – whether it be a slow-paced scene of Dalton reading a book, an elongated scene of Pitt making dinner for his narratively-important dog or the visually stunning shots of classic cars in the sun-drenched valleys.


And of course it is "about" the movies and history too. As Sharon Tate heads to a theatre to watch her own feature film, Margot Robbie is given few lines of dialogue but this gives power to her happy demeanour and innocent goldilocks which contrast with the audience expectations of the real-life tragedy that befalls her.


But as the film comes to its conclusion – Dalton has some mild success in Italy and returns with a new wife and Booth is let go as his odd-job man – four of the Manson Family members head to the Hollywood Hills preparing to murder these rich “piggies” of the motion pictures.


Tarantino plays upon the audience’s knowledge of the Sharon Tate case and yet like the best fairy tales of yore, he delivers a dream-like ending where the damsel in distress and wicked wolves (not Mr. Wolf) clichés are turned on their head.


The director throws everything into the flick where our focus on the real-life cursed heroine is actually sidelined by the enchanting performances of the fictional characters played by Pitt and DiCaprio.


Where fact and fiction blur, the film uses a terrific cameo by Damian Lewis as an uncanny Steve McQueen at the Playboy Mansion to continue with the real-life people in fictional set-ups. Excellent support also comes from Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern and the late Luke Perry as well as Tarantino regulars Kurt Russell and Zoë Bell (as stunt coordinators, what else) and Michael Madsen.


But does anyone live happily ever after? Well although there are no glass slippers, there are LOTS of shots of feet, Tarantino’s favourite fetish. But the film’s resolution is the really satisfying surprise here. Known for his love of violence it’s strange that although there is a very uncompromising finale, it may just be his most uplifting ending yet – providing a little bit of lost Hollywood hope.


Far better than his last film, yet not quite hitting the heights of a Django Unchained or Jackie Brown, the film demonstrates that Tarantino truly is in a class of his own in a period where franchise building has mostly replaced the draw of the big-named actor. But this incredibly satisfying love letter to these fictional pulp princes and real-life silver screen starlets provides a brilliant fantasy romance steeped in the glow of an era long gone.


Helter Skelter in a summer swelter indeed.


★★★★ ½


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Aug 11 2019 04:24PM



Sat-Nav


Directed by Lianne Moonraven


2019


Sat-Nav is a new short film which comes courtesy of Liane Moonraven, a West Midlands based director who tackles a problem that seemingly we’ve all have had with our Sat-Nav but there’s much more than bad directions in this dark drama.


Originally from America, Lianne has made the Midlands her home and apparently the short was brought back from the brink owing to complications in the production.


However, you wouldn’t notice it as the ominous music and digitised font of the title sets up excellently this mysterious short. Vicky Moloney plays Erica Bridges who grabs a coffee on the go whilst explaining to a friend on the phone how she’s not ready to date just yet after a failed relationship.


Entering her car she types in her friend’s Post Code into the Sat-Nav and heads off in her vehicle. More of the scary score accompanies her drive as the male voice on the Sat-Nav calmly gives her directions to her destination.


The technical aspects are more than solid whilst the sound is particularly well mixed and put-together given the various conversations, phone-calls and driving sounds as well as the recorded voice coming from the unit.


Functional without being flashy, Sat-Nav works best in its storytelling. After a phone call from her mum warning her of her ex-boyfriend, the film ratchets up tension as Erica tries to get the unit to recalculate but she gets lost and ends up far from where she thought.


As we continue the drive with her, her ex calls and finally she arrives at a deserted piece of land. The film’s denouement wasn’t too much of a surprise but all the threads that were set up pay off and the unanswered ringing telephone at the end was an eerie final calling card.


Sat-Nav therefore ends up being a laid-back but well executed short and is far superior to the director’s first film Assassins (review here). With a few rough edges to smooth off and if Moonraven can add a dash of cinematic sheen to the mix, then I’m excited for the filmmaker’s next short as unlike our protagonist in Sat-Nav, she’s more than headed in the right direction.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Aug 11 2019 08:00AM



McKinley


Directed by Ben Bloore


2019


B Squared Films


After a bit of hiatus local Derby filmmaker Ben Bloore returns to the director’s chair for his new 7-minute short McKinley, an emotional police procedural containing many unfortunate consequences.


We open with a husband (Steve Wood as Craig) who arrives home late one Friday night to his wife (Tina Harris as Emma) who angrily shouts at his son (Rory McGuinness) to go to bed.


A violent row ensues with his wife pushed out the way as he heads upstairs to the boy’s room where he is unjustly punished by the whipping of a belt.


But there is a twist in this tale: a masked intruder enters from behind and attacks Emma before we are whisked away to the next day where a police officer is at the crime scene. A great introduction, Bloore switches focus (and our sympathies) with this narrative swap and immediately sets up an intriguing mystery just a few minutes in.


A dishevelled and unshaven detective turns up (Mark Tunstall as the eponymous McKinley) who is whisked around the house by a forensic scientist (Michelle Darkin Price) explaining how the previous night’s events unfolded.


Bloore again uses images to fill in the audience with the background as we cut back to see the final moments of the parents before their bodies were discovered now strewn on the floor. But again we are offered a plot surprise as we find out the son has in fact survived the attack.


McKinley appears haunted by a past case, especially one involving his family as he imagines their images in a broken photo frame and we again flashback to the incredibly traumatised detective at a different crime scene.


The film has a huge number of high points going for it. Bloore has assembled a crew who have created a quality short that looks as good as anything I’ve seen on TV. Director of Photography Jon O’Neill uses sharp images with great depth and the shot quality shows the professionalism and skill on screen.


Kudos should also go to editor Nick Archer who successfully cuts back and forth across many time narratives to ensure the audience can understand the multiple situations we are shown.


The acting is also a highlight with the whole cast delivering and getting across their characters in such a short space of time. This is probably due to the successful relationship the director has built up with the actors from their previous appearances in his earlier shorts 2015’s Hidden Truth (review here) and 2016’s Crossing Paths (review here).


Haunted by ghostly visions, McKinley finishes open-ended which again reflects the TV nature of the film with this short almost acting as the pilot episode of a longer drama series. As one door closes we are left to imagine another opening up as the film’s conclusion teases a bigger story and further investigation.


Although the short does contain some clichés of the genre – the troubled detective, a family murder etc – the film overcomes most of these. With high-quality professionalism and a well-written script, this allows the audience to discover the mysteries along with the characters in a fulfilling way. And from a satisfying set-up to an exceptional cast, McKinley is a first-rate detective tale with intriguing secrets that will leave an audience wanting much more.


Michael Sales


RSS Feed twitter