★★★★★ Directed by: Mark O’Brien Written by: Mark O'Brien Starring: Joris Jarsky, Talya Carroll, Jaidyn Carroll Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
Darker than a cup of black coffee with no donut, filmmaker Mark O'Brien’s marvelous short film Threshold packs an almighty punch within its limited running time and without the need for much dialogue or audience hand holding.
Joris Jarsky plays a troubled cop (we know this as he begins the movie sipping from a hip flask and snorting a substance whilst behind the wheel of a car) whose presence outside the scene of a crime is less than fortunate for the victims inside than it should be. The mysteries surrounding him being outside that house, his substance abuse, and the drama that unfolds are explored brilliantly for the audience, engulfing them in a story that is as tragic as it is turbulent.
Told with a gloriously moody mise en scéne, Threshold as a short film benefits from a volatile tone throughout. The rising tension that O’Brien creates and maintains is expertly handled, keeping the viewer in a compressed sense of palpable shock and awe at all times. As the tale of tragedy gets revealed, the deep immersion that we have invested is rewarded brilliantly.
Jarsky is ferocious on screen. His character's instability and actions give the performer so much to work with, and he steps up and delivers a memorable turn that perfectly complemented the screenplay, which is also excellent. His limited dialogue is used to wonderful effect, in particular the compelling sequence between him and youngster Jaidyn Carroll. The film utilised some excellent visual flair, such as focus, slow motion, and lighting to provide the viewer with a completely arresting picture, as well as an impressive sound design that was integral in Threshold’s success as a pulse-racing cinematic experience.
Watch the official movie trailer for Threshold above.
As with the best crime thrillers, the success of the piece lies within the themes. O’Brien’s story is littered with intelligent and thought-provoking riffs on the hero motif, startling the audience with a narrative where the worst really can happen even by accident (you may notice a shaky attempt by this film critic to avoid spoilers becoming more evident as you read this film review). What is evident, however, is that this is a short film unafraid of casting its audience into a pit of despair, and asking them to endure the journey because, well, it's thoroughly engaging and well worth your time.