★★★★ Directed by: Eric Liddle Written by: Eric Liddle Starring: Gary Bannon, Jack Anderson, Ryan Caldwell Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
Scottish short film Mister Swolo, from filmmaker Eric Liddle, takes a surrealist approach in telling a charmingly barmy tale of characters coming to life from the page with perilous results. Think Inkheart being directed by Quentin Tarantino on the set of The League of Gentlemen and you...well you are still quite far off but you understand the point we're making.
Harrison (Jack Anderson) and his mate Pete (Gary Bannon) venture off into the picturesque Scottish mountains in order to find Harrison's creative spark. He is suffering from an imaginative block, a dry spell in his quest to create a memorable and original superhero (watch out Marvel and DC). Their odyssey is brought to a halt, however, when a figure magically appears in their backseat. The titular Mister Swolo (Ryan Caldwell), one of Harrison's creations, embarks on an alarming, if a little campy, campaign of terror on the boys, chasing them across the gorgeous landscapes with guns and sex toys in tow.
The power of the imagination being gloriously celebrated by Eric Liddle and his cast and crew here, the short is riddled with pure, raw filmmaking potential. Yes, the output is as rough around the edges as a Wetherspoons beer mat but there is something genuinely impressive about the ingredients of this piece and a lot of its appeal is the inexpertness.
For a start, the performers have a great chemistry, in particular when Caldwell turns up and introduces his signature brand of quirky crazy. Whilst the line delivery feels a little rushed from Anderson and Bannon, the audience is swept up into the frenetic chaos of the film’s energy that few will stop to care. The use of profanity and adult themes lended Mister Swolo a much needed darker edge that will give it a larger appeal to viewers.
The cinematography was splendid, especially as Pete's little white car travels in the distance through the empty mountain roads. Music was also a fabulous addition, with an original Swolo song being used that was hugely entertaining. The aesthetic and atmosphere that Liddle creates superbly blends surrealist comedy with a Western feel, an impressive feat that worked surprisingly well.
Aside from some mic issues and some muffled dialogue, Mister Swolo is a brilliantly dark entry into the short comedy genre for 2018. Fabulously twisted and leaking oodles of creativity, we watch with bated breath to see what Liddle does next.