Written & Directed by Richard Oakes
Starring A. J. Reeves, Adam Leader & Rachel Oakes
Review by Chris Olson
With a complex blend of CGI and live action, Richard Oakes’ short film, Exit Plan, plays out like a modern space opera, with explosive action, an immersive score and some dystopian visions that seem like Halo meets Children of Men (2006).
In recent years, some of the most engaging footage that has spread across the web has been video game trailers. Indeed, the level of attention that a trailer for something like Mass Effect or Halo gets is huge, and the quality of them has skyrocketed. That is not to mention the detail of the in-game cut scenes. In Exit Plan, we get a fantastic blend of game-quality CGI and green screen with live action, which has a huge popular appeal. And whilst the effects are not perfect, on this small scale they are ambitious and brave, thrilling audiences within the 20-minute running time, which Oakes should be commended for.
The plot sees social exile Adam (A. J. Reeves) living in isolation, as an outcast from society now run by The Order - advanced technology. When it comes to light that disaster is on the way to earth, Adam must use all his know-how in order to get off the planet before total destruction finds him.
Engaging with some of the other human outcasts, Adam is found and tortured by the slightly psychotic Saul (Adam Leader) in what has to be said is one of the most unique and terrifying torture scenes in a science-fiction short film - the story’s original use of a truth-serum (a nasty little live bug) is startling.
This kind of movie has been done before, and the singular elements have been done better (Blade Runner, 1982) but rarely do you see a volatile cocktail of all of them together, especially in short films! The scale and ambition of Richard Oakes’ movie is awe-inspiring.
Aside from a slightly weak exposition monologue in which Saul reveals all the details of the new world for the viewer, the dialogue is strong - coping with the typically complex blend of sci-fi and action. And the score is colossal! Benjamin Symons delivers a phenomenal atmosphere with his immersive music, unrelenting in its tension and diverse in its range, the viewer has literally no other option than to let it pound them into their seat - a true talent.
The performances are strong, with plenty of chops by Reeves and Leader. Rachel Oakes, who appears nearer the beginning of the film as a friend to Adam, is also worthy of mentioning.
Like we always say, the true test of a short film is whether it left you wanting a feature length film, and with Richard Oakes’ Exit Plan, the answer is undoubtedly yes. There was so much depth and richness to the story, with a beautiful mise en scéne that you could almost swim in, that this viewer did not want to leave! And we didn’t even mention Adam’s robot buddy iO (voiced by Oakes himself)…this short film was simply awesome.
Watch the Exit Plan trailer below...