Jan 22, 2022
Noah Griffiths' ‘Who’s There?’ is a highly unique and intriguing experimental short film that combines the creative worlds of poetry with filmmaking, resulting in a film that is up to interpretations of the audience but is objectively an original and interesting film that deviates from the norms and offers a display of creativity and imagination. The film is extremely subjective, but offers a two minute snapshot into the mind of a character who appears to have a world of disarray behind calm eyes.
The film starts with an up close shot of actress Tazmin Burgess offering a classic fourth wall break as she stares plainly into the camera. As the film progresses, a host of poetic supporting text and a myriad of black and white flashes become the attention-grabbing aspects of the film until Tazmin’s face is no longer her own but is instead overcome by the same flashes that have been following her and almost speaking to her throughout the film.
Griffiths makes the interesting choice of using poetry in between shots as supporting text rather than having the main character use a monologue, with poetry taken from a collection by Sua Yoo called ‘House Guest’. Poetry in film has been seen before, such as the 2018 dramedy ‘Blindspotting’, to heighten emotions of the film and express inner thoughts in ways that the actors can’t do naturally in the scene. In ‘Who’s There?’ The poetry serves just this purpose, giving audiences clues into the purpose of the film embedded in Burgess’ performance.
Actress Tazmin Burgess gives audiences a Portrayal of the girl next door with a jungle behind her eyes. She has a simple yet relatable look that takes us through her two minute development from the innocent girl with soft eyes and a grey hoodie through to the girl who is surrounded by turmoil as the imaginary figure asking ‘Who’s There?’ creeps up on her.
Griffiths uses very unique cinematography, as the shots of Burgess go from regular images to the outline of her face encapsulated in what gives the appearance of TV static on her face, as well as shots with a bright white effect which gives the actress a vivid yet ghostly appearance. This shows audiences how the tensions of the film grow and it allows a type of plot to develop through the cinematography and the way the film looks on screen rather than just using words from supporting text. Cinematography is more or less at the heart of “Who’s There” as it shows audiences how the character changes throughout the film.
Complementary to the cinematography, the soundtrack isn’t a typical piece of music in the same way “Who’s there” is more than a typical short. Constant vibrations and a cluster of noises orchestrated by Noah Griffiths and mastered by Arron Griffiths provides the auditory backdrop of the film. The beautiful peculiarity of the soundtrack perfectly fits and enhances the emotions provoked by the cinematography, text and acting with a continuous siren sound that draws audiences in and keeps their attention on the film.
The main themes of ‘Who’s There?’ are hard to pin down to a definitive list, as the subjectivity of the film doesn’t stop at it’s themes. However, in the arts world there is a certain beauty in film’s having an infinite number of meanings and themes in the mind of the audience. That being said, the film appears to centre around broad ideas of the self and the chaos that goes on in one’s mind. The title of the film and the poetic text throughout all indicate an inevitable force catching up on the main character, ready to knock at her door. What is that force? Herself, or someone else?
However, the themes and plot of the film may be it’s central drawback. As tends to be the case with experimental films, they can occasionally verge on overly experimental to the point where it’s difficult for audiences to obtain an understanding of the film’s meaning or what the director is trying to put across. This being said, a unique approach to filmmaking is always a breath of fresh air for film fanatics everywhere providing opportunities for sparks of creativity to be inspired from new ideas in films.
Unlike some special effects Griffiths uses, “Who’s there” is clearly not a black and white film. It’s a starting point for audiences to jump on a train of thought about what the film means and what the character is going through as audiences will be drawn in by the meanings behind the poetry and just who the young girl is.
As an independent filmmaker, Griffiths has certainly mastered the art of standing out and being a memorable director with an ease of imagination and stellar creativity he shows off to audiences in a two minute short.