Written & Directed by Johnny Herbin
Starring Evan Bennet, John Gaffney, George McWilliam, June Hazel, Calum Macaskill & Rasmus Kul
Short film review by Sean Drake
Johnny Herbin writes and directs this gritty and grounded sci-fi set in a not too distant – somewhat dystopian - future. Electric Faces follows Tom (Evan Bennet), a young, unemployed, recovering drug addict who is forced to turn back to crime to provide for his fledgling family. After failing to convince his old pal Lucas (John Gaffney) to join him in his plan to rob unsuspecting banker Sam (George McWilliam) Tom hires an old disused robot named Hugh (Calum Macaskill, Rasmus Kul) to help him complete the job.
As a science-fiction short film Electric Faces does a lot of things right, Herbin shows a real aptitude for building context without relying upon long drawn out explanations. Through visual and audial nods we quickly come to realise we are in Glasgow in a future where unemployment rates are at an all-time high, - not so different then - robots work in bars, guns have ditched bullets for laser blasts, and the popular hardcore drug is a blue powder referred to as “the blue stuff”, something Tom knows of all too well. The film strikes a strong balance between its more realistic themes and the elements that lend themselves to the science fiction genre. The script is relatively tight, Herbin sets up the narrative so the audience can sympathise for Tom’s ordeal regardless of his criminal acts. The dialogue feels authentic for the most part, particularly with the Scottish dialect, although at times the delivery is a little rigid and flat.
It is through sound and visual style that Electric Faces stands out the most. Herbin shows a knack for some intricate framing and dynamic camera work that allows events to unfold at a steady and seamless pace, whilst engaging the viewer as events unfold. This works in tandem with some clever uses of sound that reinforce the science-fiction tropes Herbin is trying to demonstrate. Hugh the old, disused robot Tom hires to assist him is the standout example of this; we get a real sense of his clunky junkyard structure and the robotic mechanics behind his movement.
The cast is a mixed bag; Evan Bennet is more convincing during the emotional moments of the film, successfully conveying Tom’s desperation throughout. John Gaffney who plays Tom’s reluctant friend Lucas gives possibly the most full and authentic performance and it’s a real disappointment he only plays a minor role. George McWilliam as the banker Sam is solid, croaky and quite menacing, and shows a real contempt towards Tom.
Overall Electric Faces is an intelligently made short film that manages to create its own dystopian world through minimal visual nods and exposition. Some of the science-fiction elements are convincing, whilst others feel slightly out of place, however Herbin makes up for this through a slick visual style and a sharp use of sound.
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