Written & Directed by Kevin Kopacka Starring Anna Heidegger, Cris Kotzen, Iman Rezai Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Surrealist thriller, Hades, is a darkly intriguing short film depicting the hellish experiences of a woman (Anna Heidegger) who is trapped in a Groundhog Day of intense memories, reliving them with painful angst and emotional turmoil. Written and directed by Kevin Kopacka, Hades is based on a short story by H. K. Dewitt, and the name derives from the so-called 5 rivers of Hades: Woe, Lamentation, Fire, Oblivion, and Hate. Hades is a section of hell with religious significance for some, but here is applied to the lifespan, and ultimate failure, of a relationship. The short film is divided by title cards announcing the stages (in a font which looks reminiscent of the opening credits of Stranger Things), where Heidegger becomes increasingly affected by her turbulent spiral through them. There is a degree of experimental cinema here, something which Kopacka pulls off marvellously. The most obvious example would be the score, which he also provides, that is cunningly disturbing and the perfect companion to the troubling visuals. There are moments during Hades which are genuinely gripping, not least because of the unorthodox relationship between sound and screen. Very often, audiences will experience troubling visual stimuli with a score that is unsettling for all the wrong reasons, in Hades, the is an enjoyable union whereby they complement each other. Thematically, there is a lot for audiences to chew on in Kopacka’s short film. There is an intelligence to the coupling of the story with the religious allegories, delivering a depth that elevates this above arthouse fodder that is simply trying to be “visually arty”, instead becoming something creatively different, but with meaning. This is delivered with a notably graceful performance from Heidegegger, who capitalises on the dark mood and tone of the movie, whilst offering glimmers of light. It was her movement through certain sequences which was most impressive, fluid and dreamlike, which was essential to parallel the story and maintain the atmosphere which had been created.. The abstract nature of the visuals started to run away in some sequences, which caused the pace to jolt slightly. There was a momentum being built, but it levels out slightly, leaving the ending a little wanting. However, the style and substance of Kopacka's filmmaking overcomes this in a big way, delivering a short film that has the tonal quality of a David Fincher thriller, with the subtle, experimental class of David Lynch.