Written & Directed by: #SteveYoung
Short Film Review by: #ChrisBuick
Demanding answers after one of their regular shipments goes missing and a number of their guys have inexplicably been taken out, New York mobsters Johnny (Young) and Eddie (Farrell) wait with Don Jimmy Gallo (De Nardo) in an empty church for the arrival of their associate Tommy Bianco (Lorenzo), mob underboss for the Brooklyn borough, to try and figure out exactly what happened and more importantly, who’s to blame.
The gangster genre can be an exciting one, with many fine and diverse examples past and present to attest to that fact. But it can equally be a minefield of sorts, egregious amounts of violence, terrible accents and a flurry of other tired and worn stereotypes are all pitfalls filmmakers have fallen into before. Luckily, Hells Kitchen from #filmmaker Steve Young presents a very well-crafted homage to the gangster genre, without ever coming close to falling into ridiculous parody.
“Sooner or later, everybody wants a piece of the apple”
It’s the atmosphere that Young manages to create right from the off that really starts Hells Kitchen on the right foot. It’s a while until we have any inkling as to the exact details of this meeting, but Young wastes no time making us sweat through the nervous tension in the air, exemplified fully through our interesting cast of characters; their frantic pacing, their amusingly nonsensical chatter, it all adds to the uneasy anticipation of a moment we know is coming, but still hits hard.
Aesthetically as well it’s another case of simple yet elegant. The film does a decent enough job to really get across its late '70s setting, the clothes, the hair, the talk; it’s an important aspect that ultimately needs to be established to make its characters feel authentic in their time, and while it could have been a story closer to the present, a more modern setting might make these gentlemen feel outdated.
The dimly lit church setting works brilliantly for this intimate character piece, not to mention creating an interesting juxtaposition of feeling; these are bad men in a good place, somewhere you would expect to be sacrosanct yet these are men with their own sense of morality where anything goes so long as it is convenient for them, meaning we never really know what to expect. Such a setting also means there is little if anything to distract us from the captivating performances from a cast of talented individuals, who are clearly relishing the chance to deliver Young’s clever bona fide dialogue that sure is a little uncouth and rough round the edges, but they are gangsters at the end of the day. Ultimately, what might be Young’s biggest achievement here is that you come away wanting to see more of these people and the world they inhabit and it’s a real shame that we only get to spend a short time with them.
Managing to create tension, excitement and drama with only a little over ten minutes to do so is no mean feat, but slick #shortfilm Hells Kitchen pulls it off and then some.
Watch the trailer here: