Written and directed by #JörnThrelfall
Jörn Threlfall’s #BAFTA nominated short film Over is a unique affair, as it presents a crime scene in reverse chronological order. A quiet suburban neighbourhood is captured in nine wide shots, as each shot works backwards to the scene of the crime, starting from 11:45pm to ending at 7:45am on the same day. Threlfall’s experimental angle engages the viewer in a new and exciting way by not allowing the incident that has taken place to become the film’s main focus. Instead, a quiet suburban street takes centre stage.
The film opens on the aforementioned deserted street. Everything seems normal, however there is an eerie quietness emanating from the darkness. The scene changes to 7:30pm, earlier that same evening, when a passerby notices that flowers are laid out on the side of the road to mark that someone has died. The scenes continue in this way, as fragments of information are laid out to the viewer by the police and members of the public at the scene. Threlfall’s filmmaking style in this short feels detached and procedural, leaving the viewer completely in the dark but engaged, as the scenes move from the street to static shots of evidence bags from the crime scene. One piece of evidence hints at something more sinister than first expected, as the label reads ‘Evidence M. Victim, right and left EARS’.
The camera never stays in the same position, so Threlfall captures the crime scene from different angles throughout the day. The viewer feels distanced from the incident through the use of the wide shots, and filming from all angles like a CCTV camera positions the viewer as both detective and voyeur. By also choosing to have no specific characters in the short, just passersby and police at the crime scene, Threlfall further reinforces the idea that the viewer is intruding on this scene.
The film succeeds at defying all expectations, as the unbelievable incident that has actually taken place would have been impossible to predict. For a quiet film, the use of the car alarm sounding repeatedly like a deafening siren at this moment of revelation is unsettling. This is an incredibly effective use of sound to signal how overwhelmingly bleak the story has become. This stands in stark contrast to the preceding scenes in the film, where Threlfall has expertly honed in on distance, quietness and order.
Over depends heavily on the viewer not knowing the revelatory conclusion beforehand, making it hard to imagine a rewatch of the film being as engaging. Threlfall’s meticulously slow filmmaking demands patience and the forced distance from the subject does leave the viewer feeling cold and removed. However, this further reinforces the voyeuristic theme established throughout and the coldness does feel deliberate. Overall, Over succeeds in using the reverse chronological timeline in a way which is effective and engaging and the film’s surprising conclusion makes it one to seek out.
Over is now streaming on YouTube as part of We Are One: A Global Film Festival