Written and Directed by Taavi Peelo Starring Nathan Jackson, Marylina Vrontza, Blake Allan, Kris Sumer, Simon Quigley, Taavi Peelo Short Film Review by Hannah Sayer
Taavi Peelo’s short film Element is a frightening and mysterious exploration of a surreal dreamscape with an ending which leaves you both puzzled and intrigued.
Element opens with the poignant quotes “We are walking behind our own shadows” and “Defined by our broken mind”. Max, played by Nathan Jackson, wakes up in a world created by his own mind and shadows and the short film follows his attempts to escape. However, it proves difficult to escape from this world that he has created himself. As Max stumbles through this world, he comes across Shadowcatchers. These silent characters whose faces are covered in bandages evoke fear, as it seems that they are always looming. There is a sense of foreboding when Max comes across an unconscious drifter, played by the director Taavi Peelo, which hints at his own fate if he is unable to escape before it’s too late.
The fragmentary quality of the narrative challenges the viewer to keep guessing as to what will happen next. The short film being in black and white is an effective technique in adding to the element of this world being part of an alternate reality that is harsh and bleak compared to the everyday. Many viewers will have experienced bold and vivid nightmares before where they are unable to escape from horrific and frightening situations. They will be aware of this sense of dread that the film evokes from their own worst nightmares, something which the director exploits well.
At the end of Element’s short running time, there is a sense of dissatisfaction as it is unclear as to what will happen next and the realisation that it is likely that Max will never escape is quite frightening. However, this lack of resolution is likely to challenge expectations and proves Element is a bold vision from Peelo.