★★★ Directed by: Alasdair McWilliams Written by: Alasdair McWilliams, Andrew Cant Starring: Elliot Cable, John Jesper, Pamela Cook, Peter Long, Charlene Aldridge, Mark Revel, Chris Lines, Mark Simkins Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
The second instalment from Alasdair McWilliams and Andrew Cant in their intriguing four-part series of short films, Positive Action is a follow-on from 2017’s impressive short, Positive Result. In the first film, we see a society very much like our own but with one key difference. A zombie-esque virus has broken out, causing a large amount of peril and discord for citizens. In this second movie, we see the emergency services that are out on the front line attempting to tackle the deadly outbreak as best they can.
Elliot Cable plays the lead role of police officer Jamie, a character whose hopes for a quick end to his shift are obliterated when he is called out to deal with a nasty smell in a rural cottage. Upon arrival and getting the low-down from the local nosy neighbour (Pamela Cook), Jamie enters the home of the dodgy pong in search of the owner Mr Barrow (Peter Long), whom he finds restrained in a locked closet with his zombie-sign. Catching himself on a needle, poor Jamie’s hopes of getting home early look even slimmer, as he must now wait for paramedics and the local zombie-clean-up-squad who will have to determine his fate.
An enjoyably made short with a decent narrative and strong central performance, Positive Action is a good punt from McWilliams and Cant in the right direction. Whilst it lacks the intrigue and engaging social themes of the first movie, audiences will be compelled by the dialogue which arises once the various emergency services arrive on scene. A particular highlight was paramedic Claire’s (Charlene Aldridge) hot-tempered rant about the clean-up squad and their inhumane approach to their tasks. I wanted more of these topics to be explored rather than the large amounts of footage showing Jamie getting to the scene. That being said, the build up is perhaps needed for viewers who haven’t seen the first movie in order to immerse them in the atmosphere of the piece and get them caring about the main character, which is handled brilliantly.
Above: the official movie trailer for Positive Action.
Virus and zombie films have the ability to get us talking about how people would react in a decidedly volatile situation and whether or not that reaction would be based in goodwill or selfishness. Having seen the spectacular Irish movie, The Cured, last year, I can see similarities with this piece in terms of both the aesthetics and themes being explored. Having a look at the after-effect of an outbreak is a refreshing place for audiences to be in, allowing them to move past the one-mile-an-hour pest of so many genre films, to a place where storytelling can be vivid and engaging again. For this, I tip my hat to the filmmakers for creating something that is genuinely exciting.
I thoroughly look forward to the next instalment in this series but if I am absolutely honest I want to see stronger performances from the entire cast, a tighter editing style, and more daring in the plot. All of which could add up to something rather important for British short filmmaking.