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Shocker short film review


Directed by: #JohnnyODonnell

Written by: #JohnnyODonnell


Official poster for Shocker - it is a montage with the title on the top, Lisa being electrecuted on the top left, Gary's face is predominant in the poster but we can only see half of it on the right of the poster and below it his hands holding the machine.
Official poster for Shocker

Shocker was written and directed by Johnny O’Donnell, who also stars alongside Georgina Minter-Brown as Gary and Lisa. Gary uses an electricity machine to basically get high –he is cautious about it though, he uses the voltage and the current he knows he needs, and doesn’t exceed it – it is pure recreational. When he introduces it to Lisa, however, things turn south, as she gets hooked on it, always wanting more.

Despite being six minutes, Shocker has an incredible depth to it and a sense of continuity and time that is achieved through camera and sound. One can say that the short film is about an evil machine, but on the other hand, one could argue that Shocker is about Lisa and her journey through addiction. When Gary uses the machine, Lisa observes it with a certain degree of fear, but she is also seduced by it. After the couple experience it together, they dance and Lisa describes it as ‘bliss. Pure bliss’. After that, Lisa starts pushing the boundaries despite being warned by Gary.

As I mentioned, the story, although told in mere minutes, is a story that is better developed with time – the process of becoming addicted, betraying the other person and pushing boundaries is not something that happens in minutes. However, here the camera serves as time, creating depth and continuity to the story. Often times, short films created in one small location, such as Shocker, can become boring, but Matt Harris, the cinematographer, indulged in camera movements and different angles to give an edge to the film. Harris starts the film with close-ups of the machine setting up its evilness; the longest sequences are when Gary and Lisa are being electrocuted – the camera lingers on their faces and their frozen arms and upper bodies, focusing on the time spent on the activity, this can be sensed even more when contrasted to the entire film, as both O’Donnell and Harris opted for fast cuts. Further, the film establishes a routine every time the couple is about to ‘get high’, much like the ones in Requiem for a Dream, thus by taking the time to establish this routine and the time given to the experience of the characters, the film builds up its importance for both characters and gives depth to their actions.

Together with the cinematography, the soundtrack and the colour grading are worth mentioning here – both done by Monika Pul. First, the bleak and even dull blue colour conveys melancholy and depression. Not even when the characters are high does the colour change, begging the question of whether the characters are indeed experiencing bliss of if there’s something amiss in the midst of their actions. And secondly, the score, which starts with the close-ups of the machine in the beginning of the film, is followed throughout the short, communicating that even through Lisa says she’s experiencing bliss, things are not really changing for her, not for the better, at least. Moreover, the continuous score is the common denominator here as the cinematography presents various angles and effects, once again questioning the safety of the actions while linking them all together.

Johnny O’Donnell’s short is a really enjoyable short – the premise is interesting, though the dialogue at times explains a bit too much, the camera is well-explored, especially to serve a purpose in the film, as well as the score. And both O’Donnell and Minter-Brown embrace their places as two contrasting points in the narrative, making it clear that the future will not bode well for them!


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