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By midlandsmovies, Apr 28 2020 05:54PM



Scavengers


Directed by Oliver Griffiths


2020


OGK Pictures


We’ve seen some projects unfortunately take some time to get to the screen but Oliver Griffiths new film Scavengers has taken a long 5-year journey to be finished.


In the world of the low-budget filmmaker, it’s not unheard of and he has returned to a project that couldn’t be more timely covering, as it does, the search for medicine in a ruined and infected world.


Scavengers opens with two characters (Rhiannon Skerritt as Cerri and Jacob Kay as Dean) covered in dirt and grime as they enter a dilapidated building. We are told via a title that this is “Day #158, Supply Run #63, Priority: Antibiotics”. Both help set the scene of this post-apocalyptic vision where resources are scarce and help at a premium.


The couple wander around a number of empty and decaying rooms and the director has used a fascinating location to set his short drama, looking like something from 28 Days Later with its absence of any life.


The couple continue searching until they reach a room where a small amount of medicine sits on a shelf. However, a noise shocks them as a man slowly appears from the darkness. Struggling with an unknown condition, the erratic stranger distorts his face into a crazed scream before beginning to chase the couple through the uninhabited corridors.


The technical side of the short is solid with some great lighting being used too. Shadows, torchlights, silhouettes and natural sun coming in through tall windows all give a menacing atmosphere to the piece. And it helps to shape a moody tone that is present throughout the film’s duration.


When needed, the camera moves are also very well staged. We hurtle through the location and the intensity is raised as the camera pans quickly from the aggressor to his prey.


And as the chase escalates, these great shots work together well ensuring a faster pace as the leads look for an escape.


As they finally reach a safe enclave, they arrive across another seemingly more stable stranger asking for food and water. He’s played well by Josef Duncan, an excellent young actor who sadly passed away in 2019. His brief but captivating appearance here adds some further intrigue to the proceedings.


However, Dean has an infected wound and this stranger raises a gun, and we are posed with the question whether it’s better to face the menace here or take a chance with their assailant just beyond the closed door.


Well, Scavengers ends on an open note where you are left to draw your own conclusions. With elements culled from the Zombie genre, where it lacks in originality it makes up in excellent technical aspects.


From the first-rate camerawork to the noteworthy lighting choices, this 9-minute short uses well known genre tropes to create a titillating and enthralling short about deadly hazards, both inside and out.



Michael Sales



By midlandsmovies, Mar 10 2019 09:53AM



Enemies


Directed by Oliver Griffiths


2018


We open on Bluestone Lake, West Virginia in 1864 where a deserted soldier sits staring out at the water in new Midlands film Enemies from local director Oliver Griffiths.


With a voiceover hinting at a distressing incident from the past the man pauses at a torn Confederate flag representing his doubts about fighting on their side during the American Civil War.


Stranded in the wilderness the distressed soldier (Jonathan Butler as Joseph Barrow) crosses sides (literally traversing a symbolic river) and uses the flowing water to wash his face – and perhaps the sins from his past.


The reason for this is explained as we flashback to the man in a military tent being accosted by a superior (Jonny Parlett) after apparently showing mercy to slaves. It is revealed this man is not only his fellow soldier but his brother Robert Barrow.


After refusing to lie about the army’s horrendous treatment of slaves we return to the present, but the man is haunted by dreams of he and his brother not only punishing slaves but killing them.


Voiceovers help fill in the story and the film does well with its editing which flips from the past to the present without ever confusing the audience.


Director Griffiths began making films at the age of 13 and studied at the University of Derby where he directed multiple short films. His aim to make Enemies “unlike any film I had directed previously” shows in the finished product which aims high in the Hollywood sense.


Whilst some filmmakers are happy to shoot on the local streets, Griffiths and his team do a fantastic job of bringing 19th century America alive right here in the Midlands. The wilderness is faithfully captured and the two leads do well with the appropriate Southern accents.


Parlett as the evil brother justifying his actions through the horrors of war is the standout and his small but intense performance helps keep the drama high. As his character catches up with his wandering brother, the two fight and pistols are draw heightening the film’s tension.


Enemies biggest draw is a good recreation of a turbulent period of history. It’s great to see local filmmakers demonstrate the breadth of filming locations in the area – which can stand in from castles to cities. But here the woods of the region become a gateway into another country altogether.


As the film builds to a violent confrontation of fists and fighting, Enemies shows how some excellent editing, cleverly chosen set ups and two admirable actors committing to their performances can take you away from the region into a different world and time. Griffiths also adds depth to a solid script and captures a host of difficult issues in this dramatic and well-filmed picture about the past.


Michael Sales

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