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average rating is 4 out of 5


Jason Knight


Posted on:

Aug 10, 2023

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Mateo Marquez
Written by:
Mateo Marquez
Paolo Aguilera, Allison Trujillo-Strong, Lia Mountis

A troubled man is determined to get his hands on a small box.


A young man named Javi (Aguilera) arrives at a residence. He appears to be worried and stressed out. He gets the front door open and cautiously and quietly makes his way to Sophie's (Mountis) room. Sophie is his daughter and there has recently been trouble around the house involving Javi, resulting in him not being welcome there. He asks his child to discreetly enter her mother's bedroom, where she is sleeping and retrieve a small wooden box with a lock. Things will not go as planned.


This short drama is quite a roller-coaster, with a great deal of drama and tension. The story is basically the aftermath of a series of terrible occurrences for which Javi is obviously responsible and this is indicated by the various clues that are shown throughout the film. There are signs of violence here and there inside the family home that include scratches and cracks on doors and bruises on Javi's knuckles. Javi carries with him a hip flask and there is a photograph of a man in a military uniform, probably himself (the photo is out-of-focus), strongly suggesting that he is an alcoholic and that he is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder due to experiences in combat. Elizabeth (Trujillo-Strong), Sophie's mother, has clearly had enough of Javi's aggression and forbids him from coming to her property, resulting in confrontation.


Aguilera delivers a dramatic performance as a broken man who means well but is unable to defeat his inner problems, leading to violent tendencies and panic attacks. Javi is the centre of the film and the narrative is told through his perspective. He is the main character, although he could also be described as an anti-hero. Praise also goes to Trujillo-Strong's performance as Javi's partner.


Marquez also worked on the editing and does a great job with fast cutting techniques. There are creative lighting methods and out-of-focus shots, all of which look even better thanks to Jacob Malin's cinematography. The audio contains sharp sound effects and sinister music by Matt Politoski that develop a heavily dramatic atmosphere.


This short is a dark and hard-hitting film about a damaged man and the effects his actions have had on his life and loved ones. It explores mental health and domestic violence and relies primarily on images rather than words in order to tell a story. It is a tense viewing and a memorable one.

About the Film Critic
Jason Knight
Jason Knight
Short Film
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