Written and Directed by Paul Wright
Starring Emma Laidlaw, Matt Aistrup, Amber Tasker, Lucy Hird and Joseph Stacey
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
With edgy visual effects and a supernatural storyline, Paul Wright's short thriller Fissure is a bleak yet gripping tale of loss, grief, and mystery.
We meet Kate (Emma Laidlaw) at the beginning of the movie sleeping in a small bed with a whiteboard above it, crudely stating "Days without incident - 182". After stylishly focusing in on a calendar with an "interview" marked, the levels of intrigue in Wright's movie are already heightened, as we anticipate Kate's vulnerability is going to be tested during the always terrifying interviewing process. To say much more about the reason for Kate's 182 streak would be to spoil, but the storyline develops into revelations about something Kate has lost in her past, and her frustratingly illusive connection to it through the use of illegal substances.
Combining elements of drama and suspense with a sci-fi tinge, Fissure is a short film that boldly carves its story for the audience by relying on very sturdy fundamentals. The central performance from Laidlaw is excellent, balancing the suffering and angst with the desperate hope her character feels with skilled aplomb. The script is laced with sinister intrigue and plenty of believable dialogue between Kate and her ex-husband James (Matt Aistrup). In addition to these, the movie also benefits from a fiery score that is unafraid to take risks in building huge atmosphere and tone.
The developments of the plot in the final third did feel a little rushed. It was almost as if Wright was afraid of revealing his magic tricks so skipped over them. Which was a shame, as actually up to that point the storytelling had been cleverly revealed. It's more of a commendation than a criticism, but as with so many short films, Fissure could have done with an additional few minutes to achieve a bigger impact.
Some of the visual effects were quite startling, and audiences who enjoy horror theatrics will certainly get a kick out of the other-worldly aspects which are dotted around. However, the strongest element to Wright's film is the human aspect. His characters are interesting, believable, and compelling, and the plot he deftly concocts for them is bulging with fantastic ideas and emotions. By running Kate through a gauntlet of emotional duress, having quickly established her to be dually troubled and grief-stricken character, everything which comes her way feels all the more harrowing and engaging.