Updated: Jun 22, 2020
Directed by: Kristian Kane and Lewis Carter
Written by: Lewis Carter
Starring: Charlie Lock, David Constant, Natalie Paisey,
Autistic audiences' mileage often varies when it comes to cinema about the subject matter of Autism. Some like the representation they see, some totally hate it. If anything, what is notable is that the film industry is mostly past stuff like Rain Main or I am sam, with stories about autistic people as inspirational figures being replaced with Movies/TV/Animation that attempt to explore autism in more interesting ways. Showdown is a short film that examines autism in a somewhat stylised fashion and the result is admirable but flawed.
The central story is very simple, an autistic boy is ostracised by his peers and idolises Western movies. A situation then develops that he rises to the occasion for. There is nothing wrong with the central narrative. It feels well explored for something that only runs 16 minutes and the structure is functional. It’s heart is also in the right place, especially with the sweet text declaration at the end.
But this story cannot help but feel overly sentimental and cheesy. The delivery of this story throws subtlety out the window in a manner that makes it feel hard to fully care about what is going on. The soundtrack and the situations that were shown felt contrived and manipulative, with the climax being especially corny. It always felt like the film was telling the audience how to feel rather than just naturally letting them feel it. A more realistic and toned-down film would have worked better, though some audiences might not care and may still feel the emotions that Showdown wants them to feel.
Cinematography-wise, this film is quite well shot sometimes. The first few landscape shots are very impressive and the shots that clearly contained a decent amount of co-ordination look good as well. The rest of the direction is much worse. There is an overuse of Dutch angles that feel like they are mostly used in an inappropriate fashion, but the focus is the biggest issue. The camera constantly goes out of focus in several shots, which especially takes away from the attempt at having a tense climax.
Overall, Showdown is a flawed short film, though it does have well intentioned and well told story, the unrealistic and sappy tone combined with the all over the place filmmaking brings it down. A stronger directorial hand could have made this film great, but it ends up merely being okay.