Directed by The Brothers Lynch
Starring Tom Cullen, Ana Ularu and Joseph Mawle
Short film review by Chris Olson
As a teaser for an upcoming feature film (Residual), this short film from directors David and Keith Lynch serves up plenty of promise in the form of a gripping sci-fi drama and nail-biting action. The very fact that this is only a teaser goes a long way in its favour, as the plot is delivered in a manner akin to a trailer without ever really settling on something dissectable, massively bolstered by a fantastic central performance from Tom Cullen.
Sitting in a hospital bed is Aaron (Joseph Mawle), a quadriplegic soldier whose bedridden isolation has rendered him suicidal. His suffering and pain could be at an end, though, with the proposal of a lifetime - no, not a rom-com style wedding - but a medical trial involving a mind transfer, which will essentially allow Aaron to live on in the body of another. With nothing left to live for, Aaron says yes and shortly after awakens in the body of a fitter, younger man (Tom Cullen). Adjusting to his new body and all its working facets is at first a delightful piece of discovery for Aaron, however the discoveries soon turn violent when he experiences sharp time jumps which often find him in the centre of bloody exchanges between himself and the staff in the medical centre.
With a premise and filming style seemingly straight out of a video game, Trial could easily have been a short film to quickly dismiss as superficial violence and by-the-numbers science fiction tropes. However, as previously mentioned, taken as a teaser for something larger, there is a huge amount of enjoyment found in this glimpse into a bigger picture. In fact, as Aaron struggles to piece together what is happening to him since his mind transfer, the audience will try to fit snippets of the narrative into something bigger and the desire to see more will become increasingly addictive. The urgency to the filming style of The Brothers Lynch is also an important part of this, lulling the viewer in with intrigue as to the situation, then recklessly unsettling them with frantic visuals of close-quarter threat.
Cullen’s performance is impressive; capturing the sense of wonderment in Aaron’s “baby steps” and then slipping into kick-ass ninja warrior in a moment’s notice. A couple of sequences in particular demanded so much intensity with little build up, that Cullen was impeccably grounded to prevent it coming off shouty. And by the end, the revelations about his character and the history of the body Aaron now resides in is completely engrossing.
Aside from a few familiar parts to the plot and some expositional dialogue, this is a frenetically engaging and completely intriguing short film. Trial finds a nice balance between tense action and subtle narrative. Whether the feature film will have as much pace to it is yet to be known, but if Trial is anything to go by audiences should be in for something electrifyingly entertaining.