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By midlandsmovies, Aug 11 2019 04:24PM


Directed by Lianne Moonraven


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, Jul 23 2019 08:26PM

Midlands Review - Date Night

Directed by Nisaro Karim


Five Pence Productions

From Five Pence Productions comes Date Night, a short film about an awkward blind date that ends in unexpected disaster. What's the worst that could happen?

Date Night focuses on Serena and Reginald, two single adults who have organised a date through matching on Tinder, however when Reginald arrives both his and Serena's expectations of a successful match plummet.

From the off their personalities clash, not helped by the fact that neither are impressed with the others actual appearance. We can see Reginald has used older pictures of himself where he used to boast thick, brown hair whilst Serena has been accused of resembling nothing like her dating profile pictures which she and other patrons disagree with.

Their awkward exchange is the films highlight as they go back and forth trading off insults, exasperated with the result of the hook-up. The director, Nisaro Karim, does a great job at capturing Reginald's obnoxious behaviour as he eats with his mouth open, is rude to fellow customers and confesses how working out is similar to an orgasm. It comes as no surprise to the viewer when Serena finally throws in the towel then throws on her shawl to leave the building, ending the date.

What does surprise the view however is the three armed robbers that rush through the restaurants doors before Serena can exit, telling everyone to put their hands up and be silent. Serena and Reginald's date just got worse, much worse.

As I was watching for the first time I was surprised by the change in tone as the masked raiders enter the scene, initially I was expecting them to join as more comic relief as that was the mood that had been set early on.

As police sirens echo closer and closer so do the nerves of the assailants as they ponder their next move, this final act is reminiscent of films like Collateral or Heat, Michael Mann crime films with a very American feel to them.

Whilst I could see the effort of ambitiously creating such a huge sub-plot this ultimately hindered the film as the gulf in tone from what the film started with was too much, it felt like two different films spliced together.

Written and directed by Nisaro Karim, a known talent amongst the Midlands independent film scene, Date Night serves as his first time behind the camera which is evident as his excitement and ambition spills onto the screen. He is helped by his director of photography Tomek Zontek who helps capture the vibrant Birmingham city as well as shooting the main action inside local restaurant The Gateway to India.

As the credits roll you are left with an undeniable impression Karim has more stories to tell and will not be far behind with his second short film.

Guy Russell

Twitter @BudGuyer

By midlandsmovies, Oct 18 2018 06:49PM

Midlands Review - Assassins

Written and directed by Liane Moonraven

Assassins is a new micro-short from filmmaker Liane Moonraven and is the first film the American director has completed since arriving in England. And she opens her film in the most English of settings – the good ol’ boozer – and it is here in the pub where her short crime story unfurls.

Liane also stars in the short herself and enters the pub with Midlands Movies favourite Nisaro Karim, star of many shorts from the region. As Nisaro’s unknown man lights a cigarette, the barman brings over some stiff drinks before Liane’s character expresses a stern “We’re expecting a call” to give the short a little mystery from the outset.

As the locals drink, laugh and text, the buzz of the pub is interrupted by the expectant call as the barman hands over a Post-It to the double act at their table.

Downing their drinks they reveal their target is in the car park and with the short’s title of Assassin, the audience may expect a brutal slaying from the pair.

The assassins exit the bar through a back corridor and the woman takes out her gun ready to engage in their next mission. However, a sting in the tale reverses the audience’s expectations and provides a explosive bullet to the narrative.

A micro-short can be difficult to review given the extremely condensed time frame but Liane Moonraven gets over a lot of information in a few shots and with minimal dialogue. With a solid foundation, the film creates a dash of tension yet I hope to see a few more artistic choices in the shots for her next film.

A good grounding, Assassins is the sort of film that a filmmaker can build upon as they develop, where the right balance of character, editing and narrative is delivered simply and with little fuss. Check out the short on the YouTube video embedded below and expect bigger and better things off the back of this level-headed debut.

Mike Sales

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