Directed by Raphael Biss Starring Endaf Eynon Davies, Graham Hill, Russell Walker, John Jenner & Steve Evans Short Film Review by Lorenzo Lombardi
Scarlet With Shame begins with a warning: “This film contains strong language and violence”. It should also be said that the violence and strong language amounts to very little.
This short film opens with two best friends as they partake in a few rounds of pool and drinking. This is a celebration of Ewan’s (Graham Hill) upcoming birthday. But on that same night, an event shapes one of them forever.
Tackling heavy issues, Scarlet With Shame had admirable intentions. That aforementioned event is very disturbing and hard to watch. With its ideals in mind, the film had the potential to be poignant and timely. Alas, this is unfortunately not the way it emerged.
Endaf Eynon Davies as Shane does his best with a shoddy, superfluously swear-ridden script and premise. He portrays a person dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event with acceptability. Graham Hill as best friend Ewan is also decent. Their chemistry is natural, but these performances ultimately fall flat in the midst of the film’s many flaws, one of which especially being the lack of a good narrative.
Some technical aspects are solid enough. Promising cinematography can be found through creative angles, but is let down by dull lighting. The sound production is thorough, but the sounds are not pleasant to hear. Directorial decisions from Raphael Biss are ill-conceived too. In an attempt to be clever, one frame includes a Fight Club-esque, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it image that foretells the short’s conclusion. And that is another thing - it ends abruptly and unconvincingly, while also turning its chance of conveyance into a hypocritical blur.
Scarlet With Shame should feel shame in and of itself. It represents a serious issue and turns it into a mindless revenge drama that lacks any purpose in the end other than to shock and depress the viewer. Not to say that uneasy topics cannot be tackled meaningfully, but this just exploits it with thematically unjustified violence as horrifying as its subject matter.