Directed by Shane Andries
Written by Vishwas
Starring Vishwas, Amr El-Bayoumi, David Harris, Ed Cooney, Ari Barkan, & Anthony O'Connell
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Stoking the fire of racial tensions is an essential way to explore its complicated issues and damaging effect on communities. Short film The Visit, directed by Shane Andries, is a smart and compelling take on the current climate of volatility which surrounds particular stereotypes and manages to approach the topic with a unique perspective.
Vishwas plays the central character, know in the credits as Bearded Man (a telling notion already), who is startlingly awoken one night by two men. One of the intruders (Amr El-Bayoumi) starts by yelling at our unsuspecting protagonist in a foreign dialect, urging him to reveal his plan. Baffled, the Bearded Man is then questioned by the second man (David Harris), who speaks in English and tries to ascertain whether or not this Sleeping Beardy is a terrorist or not.
A well-balanced mix of peril, black comedy, thematic gravitas, and strong performances, The Visit is reminiscent of the dramatic weight of a film like Rendition, whilst capturing the whimsically ludicrous nature of a Buddy Cop film. The seriousness to the story and social commentary is threaded with superbly written moments of humour that, whilst being very funny, do not detract or distract from the overall plot. This is further enhanced by a script which is svelte when it comes to being entertaining, avoiding the expositional tiptoeing which usually happens when less-daring filmmakers approach this subject matter.
Vishwas is a superb lead (he also wrote the film), offering an impressive amount of range in the various sequences, especially during a gripping flashback scene. El-Bayoumi and Harris are excellent as supports, creating a wonderful dynamic for Vishwas to bounce off, and also lending the short an endearing tone by the end. A particular reference to Captain America and Aladdin is brilliantly funny, and arguably a much needed spin-off!
The filmmaking was solid and catered for the story well. It would have been nice to see a bit more adventurousness with the cinematography. A scene at a petrol station was really gripping, but the outdoor location did not feel fully utilised, and kept mostly to mid-range shots. That being said, this had the effect of feeling quite threatening which added to the suspense.
Andries proves himself to be a very capable pair of hands when it comes to delivering a story that is based on ideas that are not only hugely divisive, but also often prone to offensive trivialisation. He does so, instead, in a way that is multilayered, compelling, and loaded with excellent performances.
Watch the the full film for The Visit below...