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Catharsis short film review

Updated: Aug 26, 2021


Directed by: Lawrence ''Law'' Watford

Written by: Lawrence ''Law'' Watford

Starring: Kostas Paragios, Genia Lear Morgan, Jamie Ragusa, Richard Lowenburg

Poster for Catharsis showing close-up of face.
Movie Poster for Catharsis

It is Christmas but this is not a joyful story. In the United States a police officer has shot dead an African-American man. He was not prosecuted because the District Attorney (Paragios) believed that the shooting was justified.

The D.A. returns home one day after work, only to find that an African-American woman (Morgan) has taken his wife, Deborah (Ragusa) and son Richie (Lowenburg) hostages and is holding them at gunpoint. The intruder is a relative of the person who was gunned down. Her intentions will change their lives forever.

Right from the start, it becomes clear what this short film is going to be about. The opening credits show a montage that consists of autopsy reports of sketches of the body of the deceased, the flashing lighting that is created by police lights fills the screen, footage of the man being shot by police and pictures of various African-American individuals that have died as a result of the police's actions. These images are accompanied by the voice-overs of a distressed woman and of reporters announcing that the police officer will not be charged. There is also the addition of dramatic music. It is a very well structured montage sequence that utilizes the dissolve technique to great effect.

On the surface this is a home-invasion thriller. Clearly the main theme is police brutality. It is present throughout the film. The narrative also explores racism and the consequences of the D.A.'s decision to let the policeman go unpunished. The tone is rather dramatic and the audience will feel agony and most likely be on-the-edge-of-their-seat as they watch and wonder how the situation is going to turn out. The plot also raises the issue of morality, arguing who is right and who is wrong. It argues whether the woman's actions are justified.

The acting is very realistic. Morgan stands out as a grieving person who is seeking justice for the death of a loved one. Ragusa and Lowenburg are believable at being helpless and terrified of their captor. Paragios portrays a character who means well, but fails to see the difference between right and wrong.

This short but powerful film carries strong messages. It raises awareness about an occurrence that sadly takes place in the United States: the killing of African-Americans by police.




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