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Skeletons (2020) Short Film Review

Updated: Feb 8, 2021


Directed by: #WillPeppercorn

Written by: #WillPeppercorn


On the morning of his father’s funeral, Marcus (Douglas Clark) goes to collect his grandfather, Alastair (Richard Addison) for the service, who has been hiding some dark skeletons in his closet in this poignant short film.

Skeletons (2020), directed, written and edited by London based filmmaker Will Peppercorn is part of this month’s BFI Future Film Festival nominations for Best Writer. The film presents a bleak, yet honest and genuine dramatic story in its short ten minutes and made a very strong impression with its thought provoking themes and impeccable direction.

An old man looks off camera in anguish; the title of the film and its nomination at the BFI Future Film Festival 2021
Skeletons (2020) Short Film screenshot

The narrative is grounded in reality with its references to alcoholism and possible child abuse, contrasted with beautiful tranquil shots of the British countryside as the lead drives to find his grandfather after there is no answer at the door. Peppercorn’s direction is superb, with an admirable attention to detail through his choice to limit musical compositions to enhance naturalistic sounds like the car engine, as well as delicately composing precise shots to indicate more information about characters’ thoughts and feelings during the uncomfortable car drive. The film’s ambiguous ending through a cliff hanger only enhances the stirring drama of the piece and heightens the sense of intrigue as you are left whether the distant relationship between grandfather and grandson will ever be repaired.

Both Clark and Addison deliver strong, emotionally impactful performances and are completely believable in their respective roles. Addison, who has had extensive experience in radio drama and as a voiceover in British advertisements, brought a reserved sincerity and anxiety to the grandfather who has something to hide and Clark played off of this well during the most emotionally driven scenes.

EMI Productions produced the musical score for the short and, although minimalistic, melancholic piano pieces effectively amplify the emotion of the moment and the tranquility of the travelling shots. The natural, diegetic sound design is powerful in certain uses, where a car rushing past the pull in spot where Marcus has parked intensifies the tragedy of a relationship falling apart.

Skeletons is a stirring short drama with impactful direction, a compelling story and intriguing performances – a very strong contender for the festival nominations!


Skeletons (2020) screens as part of the BFI Future Film Festival from 18-21 February, free on BFI Player:


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