Written and Directed by Mark Schwab
Starring Christian Gabriel, Corey Jackson, Pano Tsaklas, Mike Mizwicki, August Browning, Christopher Fung, Michael Champlin
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
An intense and slow-burning thriller, Shadows in Mind is an indie feature from filmmaker Mark Schwab. Focusing on an LGBTQ crisis line where one of the workers receives a most disturbing call.
Jaded by the job of managing an LGBT crisis line, Simon (Corey Jackson) finds that most of his callers are using the service for reasons that would qualify as being certainly less than a crisis. That all changes when he gets a call from Danny (Christian Gabriel) who says he is in the process of killing himself. Instantly gripped by his first real case, Simon does his best to connect with Danny and find out why he has come to consider such a drastic action. As the tale of Danny's journey is unravelled through the use of flashback sequences, we discover a young romance, a troubling network of individuals, and a dark secret.
It's always impressive when a filmmaker believes in their story enough to let it mellow. Schwab opts to enhance the intrigue of Shadows in Mind by utilising longer takes and slower editing, creating a marvellously menacing tone that is built upon throughout the movie. Scenes with Danny and his mysterious boyfriend Kyle (Pano Tsaklas) are tender and at times moving, mostly because the film allows them room to breathe (similar to the copious amounts of red wine that are consumed during the movie). As the conflict grows with the introduction of additional characters, mostly work colleagues of Kyle's, the tension is not spoilt by the movie going full guns blazing in the final third, instead keeping to the established pace and delivering a wholly satisfying cinematic experience.
Gabriel as the lead was superb. The imbalance his character feels at his predicament was brilliantly conveyed through subtle body language and well delivered lines. His chemistry with Tsaklas was convincing and engaging, offering up some of the best scenes in Shadows in Mind. I also enjoyed Jackson's scenes with Mike Mizwicki, whose character, Curtis, gets brought in when Danny's threats over the phone become increasingly substantial.
By exploring themes of love, trust, manipulation, and power, the story was always going to have to be able to deliver to a high standard. The filmmaking easily matches the atmosphere needed to achieve this, with soft lighting to enhance moody scenes, overlaying audio to connect the two timelines brilliantly, and a wonderful sequence near the end of the film which involves multiple characters, shadows, and fluid framing that was utterly captivating.
Schwab shows himself to be capable of delivering on a David Fincher level of thriller filmmaking with Shadows in Mind. The characters are expertly crafted and delivered with a story that is grippingly tense and immersive. The performances are subtle and impressive, whilst the formidable atmosphere will turn audiences to putty in their hands.
Watch the official movie trailer for Shadows in Mind below...