Directed by: Reece Grant
Written by: #ReeceGrant
For those who enter the world of crime, death is all too often the only means of escape. Especially as Britain continues in its austerity era, the tragedy has regrettably been repeated to an unprecedented extent. Yet Reece Grant’s inconsistent depiction of London’s criminal underbelly in The Hood fails to deliver its potential poignancy.
The Hood opens with a chance encounter between two strangers on a West London MUGA. Tyrone is a drug dealer trying to break away from his criminal lifestyle. Crystal is the victim of an abusive relationship with her cocaine addicted partner Junior. Although the two initially share a brief glance, the pair eventually reunite to develop a relationship of their own. However, unbeknownst to either, Tyrone’s gang are the one’s supplying the narcotics to Junior. As such, it is not long before all three of their lives become intertwined with fatal consequences.
There is undeniable evidence of talent amongst The Hood’s collaborators. The strongest of which lies in the immensely amicable performance by Joshua Duckrell as Tyrone. His contagious bravado and effortless naturalism in front of the camera constructs a character who defies the typical model of a criminal. Yet that’s precisely because Tyrone is not inherently felonious. The lack of opportunities available to him rendered drug dealing an essential albeit dangerous source of income that he is desperate to leave behind. The character arc throughout Grant’s comprehensively crafted script is undoubtedly tragic, but Duckrell’s absolute likeability creates genuine audience sympathy with Tyrone as opposed to mere shallow pathos.
However, even as Duckrell’s performance vitalises The Hood’s screenplay, the short film is ultimately let down by the director’s erratic shifts in tone. At times, the film functions as a successfully bleak social realist drama. Grant’s recurring utilisation of long-takes, diegetic sound, and hand-held photography demonstrates a controlled faith in the reality of his scenes to express their own despondency. In such moments, The Hood offers a refreshingly objective yet humanistic insight into the harsh reality wherein criminality is a necessity for some people. Nonetheless, an over dependence on original scores and awkwardly stylized performances by Rebekkah Channer and Maximus Morgan as Crystal and Junior respectively verges the film into portentous soap opera. Even as Franco Cugusi and Laura Pickton’s music intuitively capture the mood of their sequences, their abrasive editing helps to dismantle the otherwise skillfully created verisimilitude.
Grant is clearly a talented #filmmaker who demonstrates astute awareness of superlative acting and technical talent that constructs superlative social realism. Unfortunately, this is only made evident sporadically throughout The Hood. As a possible consequence of his inability to successfully balance the triple duty of director, screenwriter, and editor, his style becomes frustratingly cluttered to impede on the fluency of the narrative. Although Grant will undoubtedly develop his craft with time, the provocative potential of this effort is here diminished by an uncertainty of direction marked by an inconsistent understanding of #filmmaking technique.