Written by: #JohnathanWilkins
COVID-era short films are being released with increased regularity, and it has been interesting to see the creativity displayed by filmmakers, from all over the world, as they strive to work around the restrictions of a world amid a pandemic. But, and I think it is fair to say, more often than not, these restrictions do leave an impression on most films. It is undoubtedly the case here, in Philip Brocklehurst and Johnathan Skye-O’Brien’s end-of-the-world short film, Memories at the End.
Filmed during the lockdown, with both actors recording their scenes in separate locations – while being directed via Skype – then sending the footage to Brocklehurst to edit, Memories at the End details the dying moments of a young couple, unable to be together, as the world comes to an end. Starring Emily France and co-director Johnathan Skye-O’Brien in the lead roles of Grace and Reg, two solid performances with, sadly, very little to work with; partly because of weak writing and partly due to COVID restrictions - directing scenes through Skype cannot be straightforward, and actors having no-one to act against or nothing to react to almost always causes issues with delivery.
The problems continue with the technical aspects of the film, also. Video quality, while fine during France’s scenes (which take place in a local park), is terrible when O’Brien is onscreen (indoors, in his flat). It is to be expected, of course - the scenes were likely shot on phone cameras or something of the sorts. But here it is unbearable and can be likened to looking at something through smudged glasses for an unforgivable period. Things get a little better with the sound design (although, it has to be said, not by a lot) as the quality certainly is not bad. But there is an overuse of stock sound effects here, used to give the impression of flight and panic going on off-camera. It is a commendable effort, but ultimately, it feels manufactured.
There is no denying, however, that Wilkins can zone in on some terrifyingly pertinent themes. And while it is not as perspicacious as it would like to think it is, its opinion on these matters is articulated perfectly well.
2020 has been a weird year, and Memories at the End is yet another casualty of it. But you can see what the filmmakers wanted to achieve, and it is not without its charms, and it is free to watch on YouTube. I believe it is worth seven minutes of your time. And let us be honest, who knows what this year could still bring. We all have felt this year may bring about the end of the world in one way or another. There is still time for that! Whether by viral pandemic, presidential whim or my head exploding after finally agreeing with something Piers Morgan has said, the end of the world has never looked so inviting.