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Trial 22

average rating is 2 out of 5


William Hemingway


Posted on:

Jul 7, 2023

Film Reviews
Trial 22
Directed by:
John Ferrer
Written by:
Harry Metcalfe and John Ferrer
Corinna Brown, Graham O'Connor, Isabella Lake, Felix Garcia Guyer

In Trial 23, Contestant Number 1 (Brown) is busy beating the crap out of some sort of ninja dude. She's an obvious hardass and she pulls no punches as she knocks the ninja out and puts him to the ground. She looks like a really strong contestant and could even have the chops to go all the way, but hey, this is no time for dawdling, let's get through the door and onto the next trial – Trial 22.


Trial 22 initially looks very similar to Trial 23 in that the dark underground room with its painted brick wall is exactly the same – just with a '22' imprinted on it this time. However, Trial 22 brings with it its own complications, mostly in the form of three other contestants. Contestant Number 2 (O'Connor) is helping out Contestant Number 3 (Lake) who has broken her wrist, but let's just say that compassion is not anybody's strong suit in this scenario. Contestant Number 4 (Guyer) is another hardass, dressed up in pseudo-military gear, and he can't be bothered with the snivelling and the whining. He just wants to get on with it. So, the mood lighting goes on, the countdown timer begins and a cage with no bars(!) appears in the middle of the room with some kind of monster in it. Alan.


Looking like some kind of skinned version of Donnie Darko's (2001) death rabbit, Alan appears to be blind and has the keycard to the next exit door around his neck. The understanding of this situation pits one contestant against the other and begins a lethal game of Keeper Of The Keys, as Contestant Number 1 and Contestant Number 2 realise that working together might just be the way to get out of this mess.


So, what's on offer from director and co-writer, John Ferrer in his new nine minute short, is an obvious rerun of a plethora of 'deadly game' movies and shows including Saw (2004), Squid Game (2021), and the Granddaddy of them all, Cube (1997). To his credit, Ferrer gets the feel and the look right for a claustrophobic clash in a lethal, underground fight for survival. The lighting keeps things firmly embedded in future horror, while the cinematography and creature effects offer a measure of quality which keeps the gory bits gruesome and the tension tantalizingly tight.


This only lasts so long though as the second half of the short makes several continuity and plotting errors which leave the film feeling like a parody of what it should have been. It starts when the contestants use a beeping watch to have Alan take out one of their rivals and then in the very next shot we see the lit up digits and hear the beeping of the countdown digital timer, which seems not to affect Alan at all. We then move on to find that an arbitrary choice is forced upon the contestants, something that hadn't been mentioned before, and which just feels like a lazy cop out from the writers. Then there's the dumbfounding denouement, which presumably was intended to turn the scenario on its head, but which in the end is so nonsensical that it undermines everything which the film tried to set-up in the entire rest of its runtime.


In the end Trial 22 is a well made but badly structured horror short that borrows heavily from those which came before without adding anything positive of its own. There are obvious mistakes which should have been fixed before the film went into production and the writing and the plotting come across as being fairly lazy, even for a film that's under ten minutes long.

About the Film Critic
William Hemingway
William Hemingway
Short Film
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