top of page


Off the Beat

average rating is 5 out of 5


Swati Verma


Posted on:

Jun 24, 2024

Film Reviews
Off the Beat
Directed by:
Jahleel Hills
Written by:
Jahleel Hills
Amani Kojo, Aaron Smallwood Jr.

The writer-director Jahleel Hills works on his script and builds an intriguing storyline establishing the subject matter with conflict as its core idea therefore increasing the degree of audience engagement with the content. Amani Kojo (Vaughn) and Aaron Smallwood Jr. (Ray) along with the supporting cast help Hills to depict the narrative with realism and relatability.


The plot of Off the Beat revolves around Vaughn who gets stopped and frisked and has to explain this to his older brother who is an officer.


The short film begins with a black screen and followed by Vaughn dancing to the beat of the drums played by his friend. The eerie background music creates a sense of suspicion in the minds of viewers related to his ways of making money as well as the people he hangs out with from the very start. The set design, colour pallet, dim lighting, camera angles, dialogues, music, sound, costume, hair, makeup, and props are kept natural to elevate and provide depth as well as mystery/thrill to the screenplay and also maintain continuity in the flow so that the audience does not lose interest in the movie.


In the performance department, Amani Kojo plays Vaughn is young lad who wants to enjoy life also make a lot of money while concentrating on his family ties with his elder brother Ray. Kojo beautifully expresses the physical as well as the emotional challenges a young person goes through while keeping up with the challenges as well as expectations coming from the society. The voice modulation, body language, facial expressions, and eyes are very aptly utilised to communicate what the character feels by the actor.

Aaron Smallwood Jr. plays Ray the elder brother of Vaughn who loves him and wants to protect Vaughn at any cost but he is also tied to his loyalties towards his job as a cop. Smallwood Jr. has taken the audience on a roller coaster ride through his portrayal of Ray. He adds a lot of layers to his character making it interesting for the viewers to interpret Ray. Smallwood’s depiction of Ray inspires the audiences to strike a similar balance between work and personal life.


Off the Beat talks about the discrimination black people have to face and how situations tend to become so serious that they tend to affect families in the long term as well. The short film also reiterates the importance of building strong bonds between loved ones, friends, and communities so that they can stay with someone who needs help in trying times. The creative piece also highlights choosing the right bunch of friends to be around also becomes very crucial as friends can either positively or negatively impact one’s life. The creative piece also talks about the need to listen to one’s heart and make a difficult decision because sometimes it is likely to be more beneficial/ fruitful for all the people involved. The dramatic piece tells its audience about the significance of being a law-abiding person because doing something always gets one in trouble.


To conclude, I would like to appreciate the makers for giving Off the Beat an open-ended closure giving the audience freedom to interpret it as they want to making it an interactive experience for them. Secondly, I loved the way the writer- director Jahleel Hills wrote the brotherly bond between Vaughn and Ray making it real and relatable from the very beginning.

About the Film Critic
Swati Verma
Swati Verma
Short Film
bottom of page