Directed by: Sheikh Shahnawaz
Starring: Sam Malley, Nisaro Karim and Liam Millard
Short Film Review by: Annie Vincent
A little cracker of a film, Witness is high tension from the off and very much the crowd-pleaser. At a run time of around six minutes, it pulls its punches immediately, but finishes on a twist and the professional production and finish from the filmmakers is to be commended.
The film opens on a young man, gagged and bruised, tied to a chair in a garage. Whilst the make-up needed a little more definition, the performance by Sam Malley here was convincing – his character is terrified, understandably, and this immediately draws you in and sets the nervous tone for the piece. Within moments, two burly men, Rich and Danny, enter, with Rich giving Danny a hard time for embroiling a witness in their robbery. Danny is nonchalant and scarily blasé about it. He calls his boss and delivers the verdict: the witness must be killed and his body dumped.
The cold detachment of Nisaro Karim’s delivery here truly makes you believe you’ll now witness a murder too – it is quite chilling. Rich is more humane and we instantly latch on to the hope he’ll convince Danny otherwise: they didn’t sign up for this; they don't want time for murder; they aren't paid enough. But Danny’s allegiance to his boss is strong and he begins to debate the methods he will use for this murder, their victim crying or attempting to wail throughout, before he’s silenced by a violent punch. Danny sets about preparing his witness for a strangulation and all seems lost, until director Sheikh Shahnawaz pulls the rug from under his characters and the twist is revealed.
The production quality here is very good. Camerawork, sound, lighting: it all comes together to package the script, delivered confidently by the performers Karim and Millard. To achieve believable characters and a powerful storyline in just six minutes is no easy feat and makes this an impressive short film audiences should definitely take the time to see.