Last Words short film review

★★★★

Directed by #AcePatel

Written by #AnthonyHall

Starring #JonRobertKress, #SamuelSmith, #LeahMorgan, #MatthewStazzone, #FrankDanger

Short Film Review by Jack Bottomley




The detective procedural is a genre path well walked in film. Be it the harsh snowy climates hiding more than just roads and pathways in films like Wind River or true life murder mysteries brought to life with ferocious tension in films like Zodiac. However, in any good detective story, there comes a climax, a reveal, a moment when the pieces (well, some of them at least) slot together and whether justice is done or not, you realise what the game has been all about and are often left reeling by its conclusion. In director #AcePatel’s Last Words, an impressive low budget short crafted by a student crew of Full Sail University in Florida, we cut almost straight to that moment of realisation and across eight minutes, we get a remarkably strong insight into the headspace of the lead character and investigation.


The story sees a detective on a high profile homicide case fail to turn up for work, after supposedly getting close to solving it, at the risk of his own cognitive well being. Meanwhile we see a man (#JonRobertKress) slowly unravelling in an undisclosed location and toying with the idea of pulling the trigger and coming face to face with death once and for all.

Last Words opens up with the voices of a media frenzy, as reporters question the mental health of the missing detective and the search for him rages and when we arrive at this unknown location, with this man, his gun, his badge and a drink, what follows is a walk down the spiralling staircase of a fractured psyche, forged by a life of loss. The film is led by Jon Robert Kress, who has a Joker-esque quality at the lead of the film. His near raving monologues about life and brushes with death and what it has taken from him, are near manic and a truly effective insight into not only the character but the ongoing story. This committed performance perfectly leads to the film’s twist and it is one with a true sting in the tail, which fits the aesthetic of the film.


#JosephFailla’s cinematography incorporates some of the kind of shots from the genre (police cars en route, spider diagrams on a wall), while allowing us a visual connection with the lead character’s current state, with a strong use of the grey, darker lit, confined setting. While some strong editing by #KennyUnangst, almost gives the film a further unhinged edge, with some frantic techniques well deployed, alongside a well placed score by #VihaanAbhyudaya.


Veterans may well be ahead of the game but Last Words is a confidently made entry into a pretty huge genre, which shows off the talents of a dedicated crew, as writer #AnthonyHall and director Ace Patel cut straight to the heart of what people like about films of this ilk. In the process telling a gripping little story of an investigation gone dark, surfacing shocks and a mind shattered and twisted to the point that the darkness or indeed death itself is no longer an acquaintance but a neighbour and one you are seeing more and more of.


#JackBottomley