Directed by Chris Thomas
Starring Annie Walker, Jethro Aukin, Charlie Beazley, Ingvild Delia & George Oliver
Short film review by Monica Jowett
Short sci-fi comedy Cropped from director Chris Thomas follows a group of UFO enthusiasts who are looking for crop circles in the English countryside, led by their cynical guide. When night comes, they must come together when the mysterious origins of crop circles comes to light.
A mini tour bus takes a group of very enthusiastic UFO and alien believers to see crop circles in English countryside. As the bus breaks down, the group talks amongst themselves and are aggravated by the sceptical guide Barbara (Annie Walker) who is clearly a non-believer in the idea of any extra-terrestrial life. She critically suggests anyone in the group who does believe is mad. As night falls, movement in the crops make part of the group run off to see what it is and what they discover they are quite unprepared for, believer or not.
Cropped fits a lot into just less than six minutes and it’s very effective. The dialogue between the characters in the group provides much humour and Barbara is a pivotal comedic figure. Squeezing in a few stereotypical alien gags, like the foil hat or the weird shaped heads of the aliens creates some familiar moments which often appear in sci-fi films. As a short film, the story’s simplicity makes it entertaining to watch.
Even within a short time, clear characters are brought out, like Barbara. Then there is Martin (Jethro Aukin) who can be seen as the definition of the sci-fi nerd, with his Roswell t-shirt and foil hat, as well as being adamant about alien existence, who encourages this enthusiasm in his son Rory (Charlie Beazley). The two others eager to find evidence of aliens are Helga (Ingvild Delia) and Felix (George Oliver) who show huge excitement and interest in their search, and we are swept along in their eagerness.
On the technical side, director Chris Thomas with cinematographer Lee Thomas uses the lighting to great effect. The bright white lights of the bus’s headlights is normal yet when we see the same light in the crops it gives an alien atmosphere and as it appears to come from nowhere it again emphasises the extra-terrestrial life they are searching for.
The enjoyable characters along with the simple plot combined with good technical filmmaking produces Cropped as an extremely pleasurable watch for anyone who enjoys the comical side of looking for UFO’s, aliens or the mysteries of crop circles.