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Incident at School short film review


Directed by: Jacob Thomas Pilgaard

Written by: Jacob Thomas Pilgaard

Starring: Cecilie Elisabeth Bogo Bach, Camilla Bendix, Mads Kruse

Still Image from Incident at School showing protagonist.
Still Image from Incident at School

A young woman is trapped in a terrifying, life-threatening situation. Will she survive?

A mass shooting is taking place inside a university. Student Eva (Bach) enters a lecture hall, hoping to hide from the threat. Terrified and desperate, she hides between two rows of seats. As the chaos carries on nearby, she uses her mobile to contact emergency services, a student friend who is hiding in the same university and her mother.

The entire narrative takes place inside the lecture hall and takes place in real time. The main focus is the emotional struggles that Eva goes through, as she fears for her life and others, tries to pull herself together in order to survive and interacts with people over the phone. With the exception of a couple of people seen briefly from a distance, Eva is the only person in the film. Although no perpetrators or actual killings are shown, the severity of the situation is clearly present. As Eva remains hidden, the constant sounds of gunfire, screaming and police sirens are heard, providing a clear indication of the devastation that is taking place. The horror of the atrocity is visible on the heroine's face and by the sight of two dead bodies.

The whole film consists of three shots. The first and last are two great long shots that capture almost the entire lecture hall from the back. The other is a twenty-minute long take of Eva hiding between the rows. During the long take, the camera is constantly stationary, placed between the rows, at the same level as Eva and films her from a close distance. By utilizing these camera techniques, the filmmakers are making the audience crouch between the seats and hide with the protagonist, much like being in a box underground with Ryan Reynolds in Buried.

Bach's award-winning performance is nothing short of fantastic. She is very emotional as an everyday person, who happened to find herself caught in the middle of a hellish situation. Her character is sympathetic and goes through a roller coaster of emotions as she is terror-stricken and cries and breaths heavily as she hopes to survive. Bach is superb as she brings her role to life.

The sound effects deserve special mention, as they are very realistic. The sounds of shots being fired, guns being reloaded, people yelling and screaming and emergency sirens make it clear that hell has broken loose and create a very intense atmosphere.

This Danish short thriller provides twenty minutes of nail-biting and drama. Aside from the shooting, the film also explores Eva's relationship with her mother and it is rather moving as they have a conversation over the phone and attempt to reconcile. What Incident at School does is show the effects that such heinous acts have on innocent individuals as they try to escape and it does so very vividly.



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