A Brother's Homecoming short film review

★★★

Directed by #KennethVazquez

Written by #ZayRodriguez

Starring #ColinGaffney, #AshanDowling

Film Review by Lawrence Bennie

Nobody likes nuisance phone-calls. They’re intrusive, insensitive and, more often than not, totally irrelevant. But what if the constant cold caller was not just a money-chasing trickster but someone you’d thought was, only just recently, dead and buried? That’s the creepy concept behind filmmaker Kenneth Vazquez’s 2020 Horror Movie Award semi-finalist, A Brother’s Homecoming.

Arriving home one night from the funeral of his late brother, Alex (Ashan Dowling) receives a call from a sinister character claiming to be his estranged sibling, allegedly dwelling down in his basement. Confused and enraged, Alex is left with no option but to seek and confront the mysterious imposter. Or, is there a more terrible truth awaiting him in the dark…?

Scripted by Zay Rodriguez, A Brother’s Homecoming has an irresistibly spooky premise which, with some skill and polish, has potential to go beyond into a longer piece, or maybe even a feature-length film. At 7 minutes, Vazquez’s modest (if effective enough) short has too little time on its hands to offer any real sustained suspense. Events feel over just as the excitement’s started and no real surprises leap out of the bag. However, the right ingredients are there and, with some more development, this could be further fleshed out fantastically.

For the most part, the filmmakers are less distracted by cheap horror movie tricks and more interested in capturing Alex’s isolation from the world outside and his increasing absorption in a realm of darkness and shadow. When the bumps and jumps do come, they work surprisingly well, albeit somewhat predictably. As the hapless Alex, Dowling carries the film virtually single-handedly and, if Colin Gaffney's menacing phone-calls do cross the theatrical line, Dowling at least brings an exasperated believability to proceedings. Certainly, the film’s most interesting idea is the angle of one vengeful demonic brother tormenting the other, the exact complexities of their relationship remaining ambiguous and never explored. One of the film's biggest bests is saved for last. Vazquez's wraps his chilling tale up with a superbly cinematic end credits that leaves one with the creeps even if the film, as a whole, doesn't always hit the horror high notes.

A Brother’s Homecoming does have something lurking in its shadows, but its something that, in its current guise anyway, is more promising than sinister. If Vazquez’s film doesn’t quite leave us with enough as it is, it does at least leave us wanting more.


#LawrenceBennie