Directed by Ross Adgar Starring Dean Sills, Carley Motley and Ross Marshall Short Film Review by Catherine Pearson
Megan is an ambitious short film that throws its audience into a dystopian future of fear and isolation.
It is the summer of 2016 and there are public information broadcasts playing on every available TV screen; the F214 virus is becoming widespread and citizens of Great Britain are urged to wear protective gloves at all times and wash their hands following contact with any other person. Having watched the warnings together at the local pub, Megan (Carley Motley) pleads with her boyfriend Callum (Dean Sills) to promise to kill her if she becomes contaminated with the virus. Unable to consider this possibility, Callum avoids providing an answer. Intercut with scenes from 2016, we see Callum in the spring of 2021, setting up camp in an unknown outdoor location having just buried something beneath the soil. He appears to be fighting for survival and Megan is nowhere to be found.
Ross Adgar’s short film boldly creates a parallel Britain living a dystopian reality with a great deal of help from the use of a black and white filter and some really great location shooting. In stark contrast to the colour shots of what is presumed to be the ‘present day’, in which Callum is seen burying something in a grassy area, the rest of the film plays out entirely in black and white. This is a simple yet effective technique of creating an atmosphere of bleakness and isolation and highlighting how desolate and sparse the landscape is as Callum trudges solo through the wilderness in 2021. The areas chosen for the film are ideal, with one particular shot of a bunker covered in graffiti and surrounded by leaves really stressing the loneliness of the film’s central character. There is evidence that people were once here but now he is very much alone.
As a film, Megan is at its best when there is no dialogue. This is not a slight on the actors, whose physical performances do exactly what is required for the plot, but it would likely have been even more isolating and affecting if it were a silent film. Great portions of Callum’s journey in 2021 are depicted in silence and it is almost a shame when some words are uttered when the images are able to say more.
The dialogue is a little stunted, particularly when Megan declares very plainly that she would rather die than contract the virus, and we are only offered a fleeting glimpse of Megan in 2016 before Callum sets out to find her in the future. It can therefore be difficult to invest in her character; the titular character that is essentially a stranger. The film does, however, have a fantastic sequence before Callum collapses to the ground in a scene in 2021. The flashing images of officials wearing masks – a tried and tested means of evoking fear – together with blurred images of Callum and Megan together and a beautiful shot of Megan looking directly into the camera really brings the pieces of story together, helps the audience empathise with Callum’s plight and showcases some excellent camerawork all at once.
Not without its flaws but hugely ambitious, Megan is a short film worth experiencing with some great visuals. The title image of what appears to be a virus under a microscope is both unsettling and strangely mesmerising and an excellent image with which to start and end the film, even if the ending is less unnerving than the simple shots of the barren landscape.