Written & Directed by Jermaine Yeun
Starring Mathias Olofsson, Eleanore Knox, Kazuyo Kitada
Short Film Review by Taryll Baker
Jermaine Yeun’s Old World should instead be titled ‘Odd World’ due to its strange yet imaginative storytelling style. Technically, it’s an incredibly satisfying film. It’s shot with cool and unique skill, utilising various colour grades suited to each scene. The acting is fairly decent, too. But it’s the screenplay that fails to entrap me as I watch, questioning when something of interest may happen. It’s certainly not a ‘bad’ film, it’s just lacking the ingredients to be a great one.
Let’s start with the production. There’s no denying it’s a beautifully crafted film - from the cinematography by Guillermo Peña Sanchez and editing by Sarah Schmidt, to the make-up by Shannon O’Riley, Xanthe Jeffrey & Elizabeth Lewis and music by Connor McEwen - it’s evident from back to front. It is known that short films may lack in quality, especially in sound, grading, prosthetics. Not here. In Old World it’s very well handled. A lot of talent is present in every nook and cranny and it’s truly wonderful to see.
The story is simple; Jack Rigby (Mathias Oloffson) meets a mysterious woman known as The Wolf (Eleanore Knox). After their exchanges, Jack finds himself conflicted with his agenda: to kill her. It’s an interesting plot with lacklustre writing. Not once did I find myself feeling invested or engaged by this dampened tale. It had potential, given the amazing production, but it unfortunately falls short of the mark.
Each actor performs fairly well, managing to salvage the sinking ship before it’s completely at a loss. Mathias Oloffson is a ‘moody’ detective, playing the role with subtlety in mind. Eleanore Knox provides a dark portrayal as The Wolf, but the chemistry between the two never feels true. This is mainly due to the writing of the characters, and with the 14-minute duration I’d have expected some more depth.
Original music by Connor McEwen is the traditional horror-esque soundscape, supplying the picture with an eerie yet beautiful score which feels reminiscent of Fernando Velázquez’s Crimson Peak soundtrack. Yet, it suddenly jumps to a soft Jazz approach, only adding to the films evolving mood.
“Here I was hoping you were going to be interesting, Mr Rigby.” - A line spoken by The Wolf, which seems to resonate with me when discussing this film. If the script and characters were built upon, we’d have a significantly improved and superior film. I must reiterate; Old World isn’t at all bad. It’s just shy of being great.