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The Old Blue Trunk (2020) Short Film Review


Directed by: #SyedAdnan

Written by: #SyedAdnan


A young man (Rehab) resides in a bleak apartment and regularly obsessives over a girl (Fathima) who lives opposite him; when he finds a mysterious key to an old blue trunk, he is taken through a series of distressing memories and thoughts.

The Old Blue Trunk (2020), directed and written by Syed Adnan, is an Indian experimental short which has been showcased in the Official Selections for three events, including the 2020 My Shorts Kolkata and First-Time Filmmaker Sessions. This indie film makes for an atmospheric and unsettling first viewing down to an impeccable sound design and original score by Fasiulla and intriguing mystery/drama narrative.

A young man looks out of a window (stylised image as his face is overlayed over himself); the film's credits
The Old Blue Trunk (2020) Short Film Poster

The short does not make for a straight forward watch, with an ambiguous plot that relies on subtlety in its camerawork and performances from the small cast. The black and white visual aesthetic adds to the gritty, rough and grounded aspect of the short’s established setting as a desolate apartment complex and the film is worth viewing more than once to gain a deeper understanding of its Avant Garde style and storytelling. It is unique in its minimalistic approach and experimental nature, but rewarding for those not looking for everything to be handed to them in an instant. There are also variations of aspect ratios with a short sequence of a supposed flashback or dream presented as an old film reel with the girl and another man, incorporating jarring extreme close-ups of her eyes which are off-putting and eerily reminiscent of the thrilling climax to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

The film integrates impressive uses of sound throughout its fifteen minutes and delivers an engrossing cinematic experience, especially if viewed through headphones. Fasiulla uses many naturalistic sounds which carry viewers through a narrative with no dialogue, therefore the familiar sounds of birds cawing, or the creak of a door are wonderful at creating immersion into the setting and building suspense. There are also effective builds of tension through the original score with sharp, high pitched shrieks which remain a solid presence alongside the unnerving visuals.

The film is intelligent and thought provoking in its presentation of the enigmatic protagonist, an unnamed young man who uncomfortably obsesses over his neighbour, with very little being shown to viewers and most of the goings on being left to open interpretation. For example, the film reel sequence can perhaps be viewed as the framing of the young man’s obsessive desire over the girl and the inclusion of the mysterious blue box possibly indicates that there have been more men before him who have an interest in this girl.

The Old Blue Trunk makes for a unique viewing experience due to its largely ambiguous narrative and lack of clarity given on many character choices, but the mystery aspect and Syed Adnan’s compelling direction make this short film a very intriguing, worthwhile watch.


The Old Blue Trunk (2020) Short Film Trailer:


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