Written and Directed by Jo Osborne
Produced by Andrew Gunn and Jo Osborne
Starring Rachel Leonard, Paula Dunn, Stuart Smith
Cinematography by Kristopher Blair
Editing by Peter J. Stewart
Short film review by Euan Franklin
Tracing the extreme repercussions of adultery in Glasgow, Requital follows Laura (Rachel Leonard) as she breaks the news to her best friend Jill (Paula Dunn) that she is sleeping with her boyfriend Mark (Stuart Smith). Jill seeks brutal revenge for this heart-rending betrayal.
Requital’s place within the Slasher genre isn’t clear – particularly when watching the first two scenes. With its clichéd dialogue and intolerable characters, the film fits more with the image of a Scottish soap opera than a toe-curling horror movie. Since most of the focus is on the drama of the affair rather than the results of Jill’s revenge, the blood-dripping finale is more banal than terrifying.
Kristopher Blair’s close-up cinematography is perfect at capturing Laura’s guilt, her dread, and her vulnerability as she prepares to tell Jill about the affair. However, there is an implausible shift in her personality after Jill unleashes an understandable rage in the middle of a café. Laura is insulted by Jill’s words, rather than hurt, as if she hadn’t been expecting any kind of reaction. Lines like “His heart belongs to me now” service the plot, but are too cheesy to take seriously. Laura enters a two-dimensional world where her guilt changes to thoughtlessness. It seems as if Jo Osborne wants to rip away any kind of sympathy, and empathy, from the adulterers. One wonders why that might be.
The most fulfilling aspect of the short film is in Peter J Stewart’s editing. The close-ups are cut perfectly to fit the pace of each scene, providing effective tension between the characters. The final scene is reminiscent of the aesthetic, parallel cutting used in stylised horror films like Don’t Look Now and Fatal Attraction. A creeping suspense is created as we jump between two corresponding scenarios. Osborne takes this innovation and wraps the narrative around it: making use of the flashback as an excellent anticipatory device.
Blair’s interior wide-angles can be bland at times – they either appear too bright or too dark. However, there are some that manage to succeed at conveying the intended tone of the film. There is a tracking shot of Laura walking down the road - it isn’t entirely certain whether the shot is in POV or not. This leads the audience to suspect that Jill is stalking her from the other side of the road. This provides an uneasy ambiguity, building suspense for the rest of the film. In spite of the fact that this isn’t done to a professionally satisfying standard, the purpose is clear and the audience moves with it.
Despite the good intentions and reasonable effort, the result is no better than a semi-decent student film. There is an attractive story, but it is left unfulfilled.
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