By midlandsmovies, Apr 2 2019 05:33PM
Midlands Review - The Music Box
Directed by Hendrik Harms
The predominant feeling that I was left with after viewing of The Music Box was unfortunately one of sad disappointment. The undeniably well executed moments of the film only add to the frustration of what this film could’ve been, as there are too many falters to mar what had the potential to be a fantastic horror short.
Most features of The Music Box have lots of potential; the majority of scenes are effectively lit and composed, however there is a lack of attention to detail in the framing of scenes and the steadiness of the camera is often jarring. Making improvements to these somewhat basic problems would allow the audience to fully appreciate not only the cinematography of the film, but would allow the audience to become fully immersed in the narrative.
Although The Music Box has some shortcomings, the compelling performance given by lead Penny Ashmore is reason enough alone to watch the film. Ashmore carries the film through her role as Marcy, a musically gifted young woman who must struggle to survive a night of psychological torment at the hands of a mysterious music box.
Occasionally Ashmore’s performance is somewhat stifled by some poor dialogue, which is starkly contrasted by her performance in silent moments of the film – her incredibly hypnotic portrayal of emotion slowly builds with the tension of the film, eventually reaching a beautifully painful climax.
Despite the aforementioned sparse dialogue, this is by and large the worst feature of the film. The few dialogue-driven scenes are overflowing with uncomfortable character interactions and horror monologues, predominantly delivered by the slightly wooden Hendrik Harms (Jeremy).
Jeremy’s character simultaneously overloads the audience with heavy-handed exposition with little-to-no information; each scene in which he’s featured drags and unfortunately pulls the viewer out of narrative flow and deflates the tension that is so painstakingly built throughout.
This being said, the plot of the film is beautifully written – there is a painstaking amount of attention to detail given to subtle foreshadowing, which I find can only be fully appreciated after a second viewing.
This use of foreshadowing not only leaves interesting breadcrumbs for viewers to follow throughout, but also ties into the themes of time and perception, giving the plot a cohesion that is lost on most other aspects of the film. Unfortunately, the precision focused on the thematic and narrative elements of The Music Box may be the reason the dialogue is poor, as could have been deemed unimportant in comparison and therefore was neglected.
Perhaps some of The Music Box’s shortcomings are symptomatic of an over-arching issue: the over-involvement and, by extension, over-reaching of Hendrik Harms. Harms is credited as the writer, producer, director and co-star of the short; by tasking himself with such a large number of crucial production roles instead of finding others to fill them, Harms maybe was likely unable to apply the amount of focus that each of these roles require and therefore allowed the film to fall short.
However, I would recommend watching The Music Box because the highlights of the film are incredibly enjoyable and deserve attention, but also as a warning of the detrimental effects of involving yourself in too many aspects of the filmmaking process.