Directed by Stuart Wheeldon
Starring Nigel Barber, Rebekah Bowman & Rachel Prince
Short Film Review by Sarah Smeaton
The Nine Ladies Film production company have produced a visually beautiful piece of work here. In Limbo is comprised of several striking shots of scenery in the Derbyshire countryside and this short film is, aesthetically, a piece of artwork in its own right. In fact, for me, the plotline falls secondary to this here. The idea is reasonably original in format, following three teenagers in their fight against the Black Eyed Children, who leave them fighting not only for their lives but their very souls, which are left to wander In Limbo. It is a psychological dream that will most certainly leave you with unanswered questions. But I do wonder if it’s tried to be a little bit too clever here and has perhaps fallen short on that knife-edge balance between providing just enough information to create intrigue without too easily giving the ending away and providing too little that your audience loses interest.
The divide between reality and dream is blurred throughout, which should in theory add to the eeriness of this film, that is, it would have if it were at least clear on some kind level where the dreams/state of Limbo begins and where reality ends. This is a fantastic idea, which shows how broad writer Stuart Wheeldon’s creative mind really is, but I would have liked to have seen this pushed and explored further. The idea of the Black Eyed Children is displayed to the audience but the true effects of this and the logistics behind it are never cohesively put into action.
Nigel Barber (playing the role of Bill Parks) shows off his natural acting abilities in this short film. He is one-hundred percent believable and captivating all at the same time. He is the only actor in actual fact that appears to give any real life to his character. It was perhaps the intention of Stuart Wheeldon that the characters in In Limbo were to remain devoid of emotion in order to emphasise the dramatic change that has encapsulated humanity, but I would have liked to have seen a different range of emotion explored by the rest of the actors to be able to feel compassion towards the teenagers trapped in this world. Main female characters Victoria (Rebekah Bowman) and Sarah (Rachel Prince) never really show any emotion throughout the film. I wanted to see anger, frustration and joy (there were certainly moments when the writing called for this) but it never translated into performance, and as such I never really empathised with them.
One of In Limbo’s strongest features is how well Stuart Wheeldon has provided contrast between different scenes throughout. Having Bill Parks provide a talk in a small village church, which on first sight appears as nothing more than an AA meeting, but what is in actual fact a discussion about paranormal beings in the vicinity, then in the next shot the three teenagers wandering aimlessly in a massive open expanse of countryside, has the effect of leaving us as the viewer on edge and uneasy. This perfectly fits with the nature of the storyline and therefore has the effect of creating a fantastically cohesive piece of work.