Directed by Luke Armstrong
Starring Johnny Sachon, Holly Georgia, Katie Goldfinch, Michelle Orpe
Short film review by Sarah Smeaton
Shadows is a dark dystopian film that cleverly plays on the current insecurities of society. In a world plagued by the fear of terrorism and yet equally of the government being all seeing and all knowing, in a ‘Big Brother’ type setting, it’s not hard to buy into the extreme world that is portrayed in Shadows. It is, in effect, only a few steps removed from where we are today. Writers Luke Armstrong and Johnny Sachon have masterfully created a world here that is close enough to our own that we can still identify with it, yet far enough into a tortured setting that the result is quite believable and disturbing. We meet main characters, and revolutionists, Lee and Jess (Sachon and Georgia respectively) and as they try to coexist in a world that is so overly controlled by government intervention and surveillance that living a normal life is impossible.
I have to say that the opening sequence of this short film is nothing short of sublime. The panoramic views of London and the edgy shots in the Underground, set this up to be a potentially fantastic film. The overarching plot is also well thought out, it’s very professionally edited in the main and it has all the intrigue you could ask for, set up right from the start, to make this a great dystopian short film. I have to say, however, that the acting on too many occasions was lacking, and this in turn made any attachment to the storyline or characters fall to the wayside. I found myself particularly annoyed by this. I’d already bought into the storyline, the setting and the environment these characters find themselves in. What I couldn’t buy into, no matter how much I tried, were the relationships between the characters. The chemistry was barely there, and in moments of sheer tragedy, I was left disbelieving of character reaction. Johnny Sachon has taken on a massive task here, doubling up as writer and lead character. Even though this is his first foray into screenwriting, there is huge potential here for him in this field if Shadows is anything to go by. But to take on lead as well, was perhaps a bridge too far, and I’m afraid to say this really shone through.
The use of music to create atmosphere in the film would have worked well, but at times it felt as though it acted as foreshadowing rather than complementing the action on screen. To have dramatic instrumental music in a club scene instantly alerted of danger to come, and yes it does arrive eventually, but the shock factor has already been lost about thirty seconds prior, which dramatically lessened any impact from this. Sachon does, however, nicely show off his acting abilities in this scene, it’s just a shame that this doesn’t follow through for the rest of the film. More of the fast-paced action, less of the unconvincing heart to hearts, and I think this would have been an all-round winner for me.