Directed By: #NathanielUpshaw
Written By: #SethWimmer
Short Film Review by: #ChrisBuick
Tony (Winters) is a mid-level gangster looking to move his way up the chain by getting in his boss’s good graces. He is tasked with locating and taking out a mark before bringing him back to be dealt with. But rather than do the dirty work himself, he delegates the job to the young and eager new-guy Bobby (Avila), who inevitably does return with a body in the trunk. Badda bing, badda boom, job done it seems.
But as it turns out, upon closer inspection, neither of them can be sure that this guy lying in their trunk is the right guy at all. Now Tony and Bobby risk reporting back having royally screwed up or worse, empty handed. What unfolds is a blame-shifting back and forth about what the hell they are going to do and more importantly, who the fuck is the guy in the trunk?
Dead Ringer is essentially structured as a one-act play with a real bare-bones attitude throughout, which as it turns out seems an inspired #filmmaking decision as this approach becomes very much a benefit to the piece. We witness the entirety of the increasingly heated exchange between our two leads through the dead eyes of our nameless and faceless victim in what is essentially a one-take trunk-shot (QT would be proud).
Besides that, there are no additional gimmicks or distractions to speak of, which allows us to keep our focus completely the characters and therefore appreciate the level of their performances as intended. It’s not just a smart move, but a refreshing one and helps maximise the impact of this character-driven piece and shows a great deal of belief in its two leads tasked with carrying the film.
Speaking of those performances, both Winters and Avila seem able to give the film its serious edge when it’s needed, but also allow themselves to slip into moments of exaggeration and tongue-in-cheek pastiche at the expense of the gangster genre stereotypes, and it’s great to see that amount of creative fluidity being given to this #shortfilm from creators Upshaw and Wimmer.
Both leads also seem to relish delivering Wimmer’s very colourful dialogue and all this coupled with their characters comical ineptitude (at one point you really start wonder how they could have made it this far in their game) makes for a nice balance of tone, never really leaning too heavily one way or the other. There are a few moments where the mobster shtick comes off as slightly heavy handed and a bit jarring but it’s almost negligible and there are some genuinely funny beats to enjoy as well.
A great example of less is more, Dead Ringer is a film doesn’t beat around the bush. Sure, it might throw you right in the middle of things but manages to do it in such a way that initial confusion quickly makes way for sincere intrigue, not to mention giving you a few laughs along the way.
Watch the trailer for Dead Ringer here: