Directed by: #HowardSmith
A young woman is tormented by the horrors of her own mind, but are these visions just that or something more?
Deleted (2013) was directed by Wolverhampton based director, Howard-Smith, with a story by himself and a screenplay by Sara Stadler. A psychological drama/thriller with horror elements, the short film tells the story of Dawn (Hanna), who suffers from the constant torment of believing she has murdered her boyfriend, Greg (Kris Andrews), but struggles to remember what actually happened between them. The concept was inspired by Howard-Smith’s real life experience of a relative who experienced psychological problems, believing the police might visit him any time to arrest him and a hoard of tablets was found in his apartment, indicating possible suicide intentions.
We jump straight into the narrative with our introduction to Dawn, sitting on a semi deserted train, troubled by flashbacks to an intense argument with her boyfriend. Flashbacks and visions are depicted with a harsh, heavily saturated visual style and emphasise the dramatic occurrences well. Dawn is shown to be in distressed isolation, as she walks through thick crowds, tormented by her visions, with distorted camera angles throughout demonstrating her downwards spiral of sanity.
The film examines very heavy subject matter, with Dawn constantly contemplates taking her own life through various means, either by jumping off a bridge, cutting herself of swallowing pills or bleach. Howard-Smith is not afraid to present increasingly disturbing and violent visuals, with these truly disturbing graphic depictions that may be very off-putting or triggering for some viewers, but nevertheless very effective at showing Dawn’s deteriorating state of mind and the danger she may pose to herself and others. She is eventually aided by her friend, Ava (Bloor) and a psychiatrist (Holden) and is treated, with an optimistic and hopeful tone established as she recalls happy memories with Greg, only to be flipped on its head with a harrowing, memorable ending which looks very impressive nearly ten years on.
The short is very well put together, but does have some noticeable sound issues with off putting dubbing during conversations between Dawn and Ava. A serious scene takes place in Dawn’s apartment when Ava checks up on her, however, it is difficult to focus on the drama when dialogue is not on point. There are also a couple of noticeable minor editing issues, but not enough to taint the overall strong quality of the film.
Deleted is wonderfully directed and is an intense, thought-provoking exploration of mental health issues in young women. Although it features hard hitting content, the short makes for a very rewarding watch.