Directed by Dammie Akinmola
Written by Kazi Zaman
Starring Joshua Expósito & Victoria Ashford
“A Dame To Kill For”
Review written By Jack Bottomley
Not long into this 16-minute short film, loosely based on Death By Scrabble by Charlie Fish, you realise just how stylish a game of death, deceit and wrath this is going to be. The film tells the story of a husband (Joshua Expósito) and wife (Victoria Ashford) playing a board game but as the game continues so does the deception, jealousy and vengeance between them, as the wronged husband seeks out those who have disrespected the sanctity of his marriage. From the narration, almost poetic dialogue and visuals embellishing lust, violence and paranoia, the blood of Sin City runs throughout this beautifully shot short. Dammie Akinmola’s film is an interesting piece of work that plays out like a revenge film of sorts and with its striking black and white visuals; the short is a pleasing trip into dubious relationships and desire.
The plot is pretty simplistic but at the same time- mostly through the well-assembled dialogue- digs deep into the possessive nature of some relationships. From the chiaroscuro lighting and lingering cigarette smoke, Board To Death has a persistent intrigue and the visuals work with the plot, making this concise film a pleasing throwback to the gangsters n’ dames days of film noir. The shadows work to surround the central couple, both of which are almost imprisoned by their own darkness. The lighting even gives this effect of prison bars, as an innocent word game becomes a series of mind games between the beautiful, but at the same time deadly, coupling.
The aesthetic is pushed into your face for sure but this is part by design, as the film is all about beauty and the unbridled fury behind it. The film may at times feel over-indebted to a strand of Frank Miller’s graphic novella but there is much here to enjoy on its own merits. The performance of Joshua Expósito for instance, which is unhinged and startlingly effective. He keeps you engaged to the film and is one of the reasons that this visually accomplished effort emerges as way more than just eye candy. His onscreen partner Victoria Ashford is less fortunate in terms of dialogue but her steamy gazes and dangerous personality make her enigmatic also. The film also has a string of commendable supporting performances to boot.
Board to Death potentially sounds like it could be a parody or something silly but as soon as Rika Muranka’s atmospheric music kicks in, arousing a sense of violent retribution, the film just sails forward with flair, passion and promiscuity. True its influences become very obvious as the film pans out and at times the short feels like it should be part of that world. However the acting, Kazi Zaman’s slick editing, effective story and brilliant cinematography, not to mention the very intense direction of Akinmola, all make this a short film very much worth visiting. Plus the ending actually offers a neat little twist on the gender conventions of films like this. An accomplished game of sex, violence and, er, scrabble.
Watch the trailer for Board to Death below...