Directed by Ian Smyth Starring Andrea Valls, Ray Bullock Jnr, and Ceri Mears Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Desperation often makes for some compelling stories, and is a strong motivation that can take many shapes in different characters. Tying this in with so-called sins like greed and lust, and a thrilling film doth you have. No Hidden Extras, a short film directed by Ian Smyth, has all of this and more, giving audiences a genuinely moving and tragic look at the human nature of desperation. Whilst making pointed commentary on the illusion that choice equals freedom. Abigail (Andrea Valls) paces her apartment, seductively talking on one of her several mobile phones attempting to rope in a customer. Seemingly happy to offer any kind of sexual experience as long as the money is right, Abigail's attitude comes across slightly more business than pleasure, with the operation she is running. After numerous time wasters are deftly pushed away, she receives at text from an apparent "first timer" (Ceri Mears) who she quickly makes arrangements to meet in a local motel. The events take a turn for the mysterious though, when a shadowy figure (Ray Bullock Jnr) is seen lurking by the side of the motel, the flame of his lighter flickering upon his dark features. There is a frenetic pace to the movement of Valls, especially during the opening few scenes, which created this sense of desperation and unease. Whilst she seems completely comfortable discussing lewd arrangements with prospective clients, the urgent feel to the way she moves or speaks is a clever device to put the audience on alert for something more troubling than a simple sex worker in the city caper. This is complemented by a foreboding score and quick editing. Smyth takes great pains in No Hidden Extras to offer a rich experience for the viewer, and this is evident in the tiny moments that are scattered across the short film like little gems. Things like the "first timer" quietly removing his wedding ring in the motel car park, or Abigail fidgeting with her seductive attire whilst she waits. These sequences create a rich and deep aesthetic that is quite sinister at times, as well as making the story feel completely authentic. There is nothing surface about the filmmaking, and audiences will most definitely enjoy the attention to detail. The plot felt a little flat in the final act, which seemed a shame given the excellent build up which had preceded it. The characters had been given a lot of intrigue which then gets wasted without some stronger punch to culminate their journey. That being said, No Hidden Extras is a film of atmosphere and feeling, which never stops being emanated from Smyth's film or the excellent performances. The adult themes are handled with solid care as to not alienate viewers whilst never shying away from their harrowing features, creating an overall tone which is hugely immersive and entertaining.