Phantoms - Short Film Review

★★★

Directed by: #AlexKavanagh

Written by: #AlexKavanagh & #ParvinderShergill

Starring: #ParvinderShergill, #ShaziaMirza, #ChristineWalsh

Short Film Review by Taryll Baker

Poster for Phantoms

Two young women live together in a happy, domestic relationship, one of whom "Saira" is pregnant. Her existence takes a dark turn, resulting in a moment of horror that leads Saira to believe her unborn baby is in danger.


In this short film from writer and director Alex Kavanagh, a couple who are expecting face challenges that put pressure on their relationship and their future. Phantoms is an eerie and, in some ways, thrilling film that explores trauma and stress, and how that can bleed into the subconscious during sleep, and also leave daunting effects on the mind. A mentally taxing watch, but fiercely important one too.


The two women (Parvinder Shergill & Christine Walsh) bring up hints of an abusive past, a contrasting relationship that doesn’t seem to work. It’s unclear exactly what happened or why, given the short duration of the film. But we do see glimmers and, as Saira (Shergill) heads to her doctor for a routine check-up, she learns that some things may not be as they seem…


Moving on from the story in an effort to leave it a mystery, the technical side of Phantoms is better than the actual content. A lot of the dialogue is written quite unrealistically, and therefore the delivery isn’t the greatest from the performers. Phantoms doesn’t feel very natural in some places, but the creepy tones that sneak in with the nightmare scenes make it a little more meaty. It takes domestic relationships and places focus on the strain that comes with pregnancy and the heated verbal abuse that can occur alongside it, and in most cases, without it too. There are physical moments in Phantoms that could be triggering to someone having experienced it, but it’s great to see it implemented into a short-form story.


Not everything is as it looks on the cover. As the film unravels, the deeper truth comes to light and the overlapping scenes from past and present weave together to assist its revelation. In terms of its deliverance on such promising ideas, Phantoms struggles to invest. It feels like a good effort, but a cleaner and more sharply written script would have benefited the actors, and in doing so, the film as a whole. The concept is an interesting one, and the result of its twisted net is fairly good, though slightly underwhelming. Kavanagh’s direction is tighter than his writing, so perhaps exploring that role further would be the more rewarding as a career.


- #TaryllBaker