Directed by: Christiano Dias
Starring: Corey Page, Lisa Roumain and David Jay
Short Film Review by: Annie Vincent
An eerie peep into post-Cold War paranoia, Hurricane, is gripping yet thoroughly uncomfortable viewing. Intelligently scripted and beautifully produced, it is a high-quality short that will draw audiences in, though they may wish it hadn’t.
One night in 1950s America, Eva is serving her husband dinner, row upon row of canned goods stacked up on the shelves behind her. She’s worked hard with shoddy ingredients, but as she approaches the table, she has to set her perfect-housewife face. The mood is tense and it becomes clear that her husband, Oslo, can be a difficult man to please. He seems cold; he stares her down; he criticises her cooking, only to over-dramatise his love for the meal once she’s delivered her insipid response to his put-downs. He seems to be a man intent on winding up his wife and oddly, she seems to like it, her smile betraying an odd attraction to him.
Mid-way through dinner, their radio cuts out and Oslo recalls a conversation with his neighbour John, last week: his radio had also cut out. When he’d taken it apart, he’d found a microphone the size of his fingernail. Since that conversation, Oslo hasn’t seen John and he’s convinced it has something to do with the microphone – clearly a listening device placed there by the Communists. Eva teases that he’s been taken in by them, incredulous at her husband’s paranoia, but Oslo doesn’t see the funny side. Then suddenly, there is a knock at the door and plucky young Ben is admitted, looking to sell a newspaper subscription though Oslo thinks otherwise and decides he must get a handle on this situation quickly.
The performances from all three actors are excellent, but Corey Page is a marvel. Immediately, he strikes viewers as slightly dark, antagonistic, mean, but as the film continues his paranoia is perfectly pitched and increases until he does his very worst, completely confident that he is doing the right thing and is catching a ‘Commy’. He manages to take the character from 5 to 500 in minutes, but carries you with him and you don’t for a second doubt him. Part of his believability rests with Roumain (Eva) and Jay (Ben) whose reactions help hold the film just on the right side of believable. Roumain smoulders from the beginning, but controls it and pares it back as Corey’s characterisation dominates and Jay puts in a confident performance as the frightened boy, taunted by his captor.
The little touches in the production really bring Hurricane to life, from the old radio transmissions to the set design and low lighting, but the script really shines as the audience is held on the cusp of a laugh, only to shy away from it again when it becomes a slight or a maniacal rant. Viewing is uncomfortable, but that is the beauty of this piece: its madness is captivating because it hovers on the edge of reality.