Written and Directed by Scott Ryan Vickers
Starring Scott Ryan Vickers, Frances Barber, Sarah Jayne Dunn, Matthew Crompton, Mohamad Al Jarrah, & Daniel Hanbridge
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
A journey through the harrowing experiences of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), Scott Ryan Vickers's compelling short film Advance to Contact is as cinematically thrilling as it is thematically engaging.
Ben (Vickers) is a vet struggling to assimilate himself back into his home life following another stint serving in the British armed forces. With symptoms including violent outbursts of rage and possible hallucinations disrupting his entire life, the war has very much come home for this poor soldier who fails to find solace in those around him.
As with the most effective PTSD short films, Vickers takes the brutal approach. His short is not trying to soften the edges of the main character's suffering in order to make it more palatable for a mainstream audience and neither is he shying away from executing daring moments of filmmaking flair. Too often filmmakers approach a sensitive subject like this and decide to tackle it with bubble wrap. Advance to Contact is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful displays of PTSD ever attempted.
There is so much for the viewer to grapple with. The visual editing is harsh and jolting, the soundscape is crippling at times, the plot moves with an unrelenting pace, and the dialogue is as tough as nails. All these tonal experiences have the desired effect on the viewer who will likely succumb to the cacophony of chaos that simulates the experience that this soldier (and so many others like him) have suffered. The result is a breathtakingly painful viewing experience that is heart wrenching and deeply affecting. Furthermore, spectacular moments where the filmmaking mirrors the emotions of the character are littered across the run time, and are hugely enjoyable.
The performances are largely well executed, although Vickers's own stumbles slightly in the final section where the over voice line delivery felt a little wooden. He is at his best, though, during the more anguished scenes, in particular one with his son (Daniel Hanbridge) during a tumultuous dinner sequence. Special mention to Sarah Jayne Dunn who plays Ben's wife, who delivers a few knockout moments over the course of the movie.
As with any PTSD drama, the content is bleak. But when handled with care and bravery when it comes to making it cinematic, you have the ingredients for an outstanding film. And that is exactly what Advance to Contact is.
Watch the official short film trailer below...