Directed by Daniel Harding
Starring Meryl Griffiths and Neil James
Short film review by Sarah Smeaton
This is an intriguing short film with perhaps more slapstick humour than I would have liked to have seen in what could have essentially been a great dark comedy. What should have been a very macabre scene of finding a severed hand instantly turns into absurdity.
Ms Whitman (Meryl Griffiths), a professional-looking housing developer, picks up a dismembered body part with her bare hand before dropping it and wiping her hands on Trevor (Neil James), a building contactor. The ever bright character of Trevor responds with, “Oh my god, is that a hand?” Right from the offset, it’s therefore pretty hard to identify with these characters, and consequently empathise with what happens to them. The acting throughout could have been more believable, which also countered the plausibility of the shocking events that unfold.
The fact that this film refuses to become serious on any level is perhaps its biggest downfall. The Missing Hand has the bones of being a great black comedy and does have a similar to vibe to films such as Very Bad Things, where you can’t believe what you’re watching with such outrageous events disrupting the lives of such ordinary people. This short film’s saving grace is the choice of setting. The normality of this Essex wasteland and the everyday characters juxtaposed with the macabre event of finding a severed hand does most certainly hold the attention and leave you wanting to find out more. I just at times wondered what exactly it was that I was watching as this doesn’t seem to directly fall into any set genre. It doesn’t really know what it is…a black comedy, a horror, a fast-paced action or just a plain and simple comedy, it never really becomes evident which.
Writer and director Daniel Harding has focused on a very interesting idea here, and I think what works in this film is that most people will be able to put themselves in the shoes of Ms Whitman and Trevor when they find the unthinkable. I would have liked to have seen this plot taken further with more solid backstory building, as the end result felt quite rushed and incomplete. In all a neat idea, lacking in essential follow-through.
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