Directed by: #DavidMartynConley
Written by: David Martyn Conley
A high school shooting plot with a twist, filmmaker David Martyn Conley's explosive short film Father's Day tackles some hefty discussion points, from mental health and gun control to murder. Putting the audience in a constant state of terror, the tagline for this film is "Safety is an illusion" and boy do we feel it.
Taking place inside an American high school, three male students are being held at gunpoint. The wielder of the weapon is not a fellow student, however, it is a man called Ash (Gary Modlish), and he's just shot a teacher (Tony Bravado) in cold blood for trying to aid the boys. First to arrive on scene is Detective Whitlock (David Martyn Conley) who attempts to convince the shooter to put down his gun and get everyone to safety. Regrettably, there is more to this harrowing story than a crazed gunman.
Ferociously paced and loaded with action, Father's Day is a bold short film. Conley knows which triggers to pull to keep the movie engaging and thrilling throughout. The weighty themes are ever present yet the audience never feels bogged down by this, instead becoming emotionally invested from the get-go and eager to see how events transpire.
The performances are strong, in particular Modlish, whose rabid turn was absolutely compelling for the duration of the piece. Conley is great at injecting moments of humour with his charismatic detective, yet still explores the hefty psychological impact of the narrative with a counsellor (an always brilliant Sharon Conley who is sadly underused).
There were, sadly, some potent issues with the filmmaking which hampered Father's Day. The sound being the main offender. The audio for dialogue is scruffy at times, and some actors seem better rigged up than others during certain scenes. There was also a dreamlike aesthetic to the grading that robbed the movie of its immediacy, as if we were watching a throwback of something inevitable without any hope for a better outcome.
That being said, Conley proves himself to be a formidable action filmmaker and storyteller. This candid tale of mental health, high school tragedy and the illusion of safety is powerfully acted and memorable for its strong plot. An interesting aspect to the movie is the way in which males deal with emotional distress. Ash's downward spiral in life seems to have manifested into aggressive, violent behaviour, and Detective Whitlock's seeming reluctance at the idea of needing counselling is indicative of society's insistence that boys don't cry.
With a more nuanced aesthetic and bigger production budget, viewers should eagerly anticipate Conley's next move in film and see Father's Day as a heroic if flawed outing.