Written & Directed by Basil Al-Safar and Rashad Al-Safar
Starring Daragh O'Malley and Pedro Monteiro
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Told with mystery, suspense, and intrigue, short film The Jigsaw is an absolute marvel. Written and directed by Basil Al-Safar and Rashad Al-Safar, it tells the tale of one man (Pedro Monteiro) who travels to a small town to purchase the titular Jigsaw. Once there, the vendor of the shop (Daragh O'Malley) foretells of the Jigsaw's mysterious nature, and that it always returns to him.
Reminiscent to a story like The Monkey Paw (brilliantly parodied by The Simpsons in one of their Treehouse of Horror episodes), there is a fable-like quality to the Al-Safar's movie, making it feel immensely timeless and slightly spooky. The standard of filmmaking, however, is incredibly modern and potent. With some incredible camera techniques being used, such as a road-floor view of a car passing by overhead, or the camera moving into said car after showing the view from the roof. Rashad Al-Safar is the cinematographer here (among many other duties) and does a spectacular job.
The pacing of The Jigsaw as a short film was excellent, moving with a thriller tempo but punctuated with softer dramatic beats that let the mystery seep in. Throughout, there is a foreboding atmosphere which is deftly cultivated by the various aspects of the movie, without feeling like they are being crow-barred in for the sake of cheap thrills. By the final third, a crescendo of storytelling prowess culminates in a simply beautiful yet harrowing fashion. Armando Filipe's sound (edited by Rashad Al-Safar), creates a formidable atmosphere for the events to play out against, reminiscent of horrors and psychological thrillers.
Both of the central performers are wonderful. Monteiro is a stoic yet engaging lead, keeping the audience glued to his endeavours and...ahem...too close to the picture to figure it out. O'Malley is utterly terrific as the antagonist and propagator of suspense, especially in the scene in the dusty shop when the two interact.
Like a 1000 piece, The Jigsaw is intricate filmmaking at its best. Every tiny piece of detail or movie aspect has been carefully constructed to fit into this gorgeous tapestry. It's a rare thing to see a short film created so personally and independently as the Al-Safar's have, taking on so many elements, and still have it emerge as beautifully crafted as this.
Watch the whole of The Jigsaw short film below...