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By midlandsmovies, May 4 2019 08:10PM

Midlands Review - Leaving Home

Directed by James Heaney


Goldbox Productions

"After having an argument with his dad, Liam decides that he's leaving home as he's had enough of being judged. Will he be able to leave without tearing the family apart?"

Leaving Home begins with a young man scrolling through his phone one morning as he awakes from his sleep before heading downstairs to meet his mum and dad at the breakfast table.

Rather than a happy ‘good morning’, there is tension in the air as the man and his father bicker whilst his mum tries to keep the peace. As the breakfast is served, father and son’s tumultuous relationship comes to the forefront as they begin to take digs at each other.

With dad accusing his son of being lazy for not washing up his plates, the son grabs at his chest in discomfort. However, his pain is dismissed by his tough father and before he leaves the kitchen, he states that he will sort his life out when he “moves away from you two”.

The opening is well shot but the introduction of the parents has them strangely filmed from behind. In another movie this may have suggested a barrier between parents and child. But here you simply can’t see the faces and some different blocking and framing would have been more effective to draw us in to the characters as they are introduced. As it is, the white kitchen and bland beige wardrobe really doesn’t create much atmosphere on their own.

Also, although I’m no prude I felt the swearing between the two appeared unjustified in the context. Instead, it would have been great to use something more visual to represent the father-son arguments. A glance, some silence or some cleverer shot choices could have given Leaving Home some more creativity and subtlety. As it is, it’s a very literal translation of quite a literal script.

However, as the son returns to his room, the film has a good use of graphics to show him messaging his friend. The the son begins to grab at his chest once again as he listens to loud music which shuts him off from his parents. But a juddering special effect and a hard cut in the middle of the short jolts the film from its standard delivery to create some mystery as to a far greater life-changing event.

As the boy’s parents discuss how to talk to their son to resolve their differences, he is soon heading downstairs to offer his own apology. Uncomfortably though, his mum ignores his pleas and it is here where the short suggests something altogether different has occurred in these people’s lives.

In conclusion Leaving Home comes across as an honourable attempt to create a short about an important part of dealing with those who are “leaving” but with an added twist. Yet although the sound, visuals and technical aspects are undertaken well, there’s not a lot here to make the film stand out.

The film does get far more interesting towards its end however and the story is simple and delivered clearly – but I do hope the filmmaker can put their own creative stamp on their next work as the solid foundations are already successfully in place here to be built upon in future projects.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Feb 28 2019 06:33PM

Virtual Brutality (2019)

Directed by James Heaney

From Goldbox productions and director James Heaney comes Virtual Brutality, a short film combining exciting action with dark humour.

The film starts off with a delivery driver making his way to a customer's flat with a large package that needs to be signed for. As an audience we’re not sure what is inside at this point, however the animated music alongside the prolonged trip to the customers door indicate it is possibly something that will be awe-inspiring.

Our protagonist answers the door, looks down and beams with delight as he sees that his order has finally arrived at his home. He shuts the door and starts to unravel the packaging only for two opportunistic intruders to use the door left ajar from the courier driver to let themselves in.

Director James Heaney employs a voiceover to introduce the audience to the package, a virtual reality headset, which is used here to escape the trappings of the modern world. It also lets you be who you want to be. Personally, I loved the addition of the voiceover and the way it is used to exemplify the contemporary hunger to separate one’s self from reality and explore other worlds through “virtual reality”.

As the intruders break into our protagonist's property, they see he is otherwise occupied with his new purchase. The virtual reality mode is fully on as we see him kicking and punching the air in glee. The calamitous burglars soon end up on the wrong side of our main character as he unknowingly grapples both - thinking they are part of his “virtual” world.

Dean Williams, the stunt co-ordinator, has done a great job of choreographing the fight scenes to give them whip crack intensity, something not ordinarily found in low budget short films. Because of this the action flowed well helping keep the pace of the film to a good standard.

Virtual Brutality is a fun, zany look at a young man using a virtual reality headset for the first time - described as “a product that will keep you in denial for hours on end”. The violent tone aside, I thought Virtual Brutality reminded me of the vibe and the quality of a Pixar short film, and although brief, it is a ton of fun! Brutal.

Guy Russell

Twitter @BudGuyer

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