Toppy short film review

★★★★

Directed by: Howard-Smith

Written by: Howard-Smith

Starring: Sophie Bullock, Joanna Bentley, Paige Allen, Jacqui Ure

Film Review by: Jason Knight

Poster for Toppy showing protagonist.
Poster for Toppy

There is something wrong with 12-year-old Freya.


Freya (Bullock) has a friend, who she calls Toppy, to whom she speaks all the time. However, the strange thing is that Toppy exists only from her perspective. Apparently, she has an imaginary friend and that has been the case for two years, since her father passed away. She insists that Toppy is real and visible. Her mother Claire (Bentley) becomes increasingly concerned after her daughter commits bad deeds that involve breaking a frame containing her late father's photo and assaulting her friend Alice (Allen). Freya claims that Toppy is responsible. Things take a turn for the worst when Claire decides to take Freya to a psychologist.


This dark and disturbing psychological thriller focuses on a troubled girl, who seems to be suffering from split personality disorder, which was probably caused by the death of her father, indicating that Freya also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. The story takes the viewer into the mind of Freya and observes as she 'has conversations' with Toppy and generally behaves as if Toppy is an actual person. There is a pattern of behavior and that occurs whenever someone insults Toppy. When that happens, Freya turns into another person, becoming aggressive and violent. And she constantly blames Toppy when something bad happens. With that in mind, the character of Toppy might be representing the anger that she feels by the fact that her father was taken away from her.


Bullock is the one who steals the show as a young girl who appears normal and loves dancing, but is ostensibly having psychological issues. One moment she is kind and cheerful, the next she is angry and menacing. And she performs the mood switch very effectively. She truly believes that Toppy is real. Bentley is her loving mother, who cares deeply about her daughter and wants to help her. Overall, the acting is convincing, even though at some points it disappoints.


The film has an intriguing plot and it is interesting (and awkward) watching Freya interact with her imaginary friend and following her mother as she desperately tries to help the situation as things get more and more out of control.


The creepy and sinister score helps create a menacing atmosphere and there appears to be a nod to a classic horror film when Freya utters a line similar to the famous one spoken by Jack Nicholson in The Shining.


Children sometimes have imaginary friends and Toppy explores the dark side of that. It looks into the ways in which mental issues can affect children and the people around them. This is an unsettling but compelling short and deserves praise and recognition.

#JasonKnight