Directed by George Simons
Starring Guy Barnes
Short film review by Lorenzo Lombardi
Loss breeds hardship. It can also cause anger and loneliness. Secluded embodies this well by representing itself as a realist focus on a subject affected by loss, all the while transforming into a hard-hitting thriller.
The short film follows Richard (Guy Barnes), a lonely man who wanders from secluded forests to empty bars for seemingly therapeutic reasons. Further in his visits, we slowly gather the cause of the sadness he conveys, as hints of a life-changing event appear in admirably subtle ways. These nuances are even seen at the beginning of the film, one of which is when we see a man putting down flowers next to a road, all from the perspective of Richard’s car.
Speaking of perspective, the camera angles in this short are refreshingly varied and visceral. The audience sees through mid-shots, long shots, wide shots, and low-angle shots. Secluded’s wide and long shots, in particular, invoke the atmospheric bleakness of Richard’s world as he walks through empty forests.
Guy Barnes is both delicate and tough in his role. He plays the character realistically and emotionally and his repressed sadness culminates to a notably heart-wrenching scene where he is clinging to a photo frame, distraught. A photo is not shown, as the short film occasionally leaves tidbits to visual interpretation. Following scenes then reveal more details about Richard’s personality, and the viewer can eventually see his other repressed emotion: anger. Those emotions then fester into a brief but intense final sequence that will have the audience saddened and horrified. They will most likely feel this way because the plot and protagonist’s intentions finally unfold, and the audience will have a sudden and shocking realization concurrent with the sequence.
George Simon's film boasts a grounded performance, promising cinematography, and a pleasing piano-heavy score. Secluded trusts the audience’s intelligence and creates a quiet but effective realist thriller that makes you question how you yourself would fill the void of loss, and to what extent?