'The Tainted' short film review

★★★

Directed by: #JackCarlin

Written by: #JackCarlin

Starring: #EvelynRoberts, #TaylaKenyon, #DavidChilds, #JuliaMeola

Film Review written by: #AmberJackson




Written and directed by Jack Carlin, ‘The Tainted’ is a post-apocalyptic nightmare of a family ripped apart by grief, abuse and arguably the end of the world. Girls Farrah (Evelyn Roberts) and Maria (Tayla Kenyon) are fighting to survive in a house with an abusive father (David Childs) and resolve to kill him, before fleeing into a world that they will no longer recognise. Scared to leave, but scared to stay, they realise that running is their only option.


The film opens on the two sisters plotting their imminent murder of their Dad. Roberts and Kenyon’s performances were emotional, if not a little overdone. However, the audience could really understand the dynamic that they shared of taking it in turns to support each other with difficult decisions surrounding their situation. Both actors highlighted two strong girls that were ultimately desperate in the face of abuse, which was portrayed very believably. David Childs, too, provided an excellent acting dynamic to the film, portraying a father angry at the daughters he believes he is trying to protect, but is in reality harbouring them like hostages.


It felt very real to be watching scenes with these characters; Carlin’s storyline is clear, but the structure of the script was a little confusing in places. The film itself offers nothing too extraordinary and would suit being a feature-length film, as it has great narrative potential. ‘The Tainted’ would really benefit from exploring what is outside the house and there is a desire to know what happens to both Maria and Farrah, beyond what is merely explained. The film’s internal nature is good, but it would be intriguing to see past that and open more opportunities for action.


Director of Photography Oriel Ashcroft opted for lots of close-up shots of the characters throughout the short, which added to the tone of desperation throughout. Camerawork focused on intimate facial expressions so that the audience could constantly see what each character was feeling, which allowed for a successful following of narrative. This was edited together in a mix of quick cuts and short scenes. These were effective because no part of the story was overdone or over-explained, meaning that editor Steven Dunn used fast scene changes and a quick pace to make the scene more dramatic and highlight every emotion felt by Farrah and Maria.


Adding to the drama, there was an abundance of red lighting within the house, making the atmosphere more intense. When the outside light is let in, it is a sharp contrast to the dingy interior, which was incredibly effective. The light being on the faces of the girls centralised them, whilst making them appear as though their every move was being scrutinised. In addition to this, the decision to not include SFX was well-thought-out in not only emphasising the lighting mood, but also makes the film feel raw. This is unlike a typical film about the apocalypse in that the focus is not on this, but rather the situation of both girls trying to flee the abuse they have endured.


‘The Tainted’ has potential, but suffers with a narrative cut short and too much unseen. However, with development, it would make a very successful feature.