Directed by: #MatthewSawyer
Short Film Review by #ChrisBuick
Under the belief that the young man he currently has tied to a chair with a potato sack on his head is the one responsible for the heinous attack on his sister, aspiring hardman Danny (Edge), with the help of his partner in crime Kane (McGarry) and head-honcho father (Ray-White), begins tightening the screws on his captive, demanding a confession. But with young Shane (Lyons) unwavering as he pleads his innocence, things begin to get increasingly complex and messy for all involved.
Betrayed is a decent, well-made #shortfilm with a fair amount going for it, but it could have been a great one if it didn't appear to stumble over its own feet in certain places. It starts strong, we get tension, we get intrigue and although it’s pretty hammy at times acting-wise, it’s a tense and entertaining first act to watch, all of which sets the film up really well. Unfortunately, it is at the mid-point that small cracks begin to show and the film starts to wobble.
One of the most obvious examples of this is in the writing. The opening movements of the film for the most part succeed in invoking a certain level of tension and drama, enough to get us a little invested at least, while also managing to inject itself with the odd bit of playful humour. However, all that seems to be abandoned at this midway juncture.
The dialogue becomes awkwardly stagnant and repetitive, the characters simply going round in circles for several minutes before the film eventually opts to try and move things forward again. This sharp drop in pace means that all that initial hard-work is almost completely lost, the anticipation and intrigue fizzled out and any attempts at humour forgotten. However, the most frustrating thing to see is how the film gives the game away far too early, telegraphing its finale long before the events are even close to transpiring, making it a somewhat long wait until the inevitable finish.
It's also at this point that the cast performances also show evidence of a gradual decline. While it's probably unfair to say that there is a direct correlation between the introduction of Ian Ray-White's (mob-boss?) Steve and the beginning of the film's bumpy road to the finish, the two events do appear to conveniently overlap. It may perhaps be due to the fact most of the recycled dialogue appears to be his, but where Edge and McGarry at least are able to instil some elements of light and shade to their roles despite this, Ray-White's is an unconvincing turn to say the least as the alleged hardman that honestly never appears even the slightest bit intimidating or formidable.
Lyons' performance however is almost a complete contrast and despite having relatively little to do, manages to really sell his sticky situation with all the gravitas it deserves. Also, credit due where it is due; the film not only looks great throughout (in my opinion the whole piece is lit magnificently) but it’s slick editing, camerawork and use of score in the final scenes does allow the film to somewhat redeem itself in the closing moments.
With a decent premise behind it, Betrayed as an idea is solid and actually starts and ends with some aplomb, unfortunately it’s the rather sizeable dip in the middle that stops it realising its true potential.