Director: Sam E. Flanagan
Writer: Dominic Callander
Cast: David Rodgers, Jamie Lee Parker
Running time: 9 mins
The premise of a film is of vital importance within the thriller genre and in the short film genre. An interesting point of departure paves the way for a strong plot twist, a characteristic mechanism of thriller films, while a short film without a decent – preferably visual – premise is hamstrung by a lack of clarity, a deficiency that is usually quite hard to recover in just ten minutes.
Clearly, if the thriller genre and the short film genre are merged into the so-called short thriller film genre, the premise is even of more importance. In this particular respect, the Director of short thriller film Too Far Gone, Sam E. Flanagan, who has been involved in ten short films, demonstrates he fully understands this highly specific film genre. Too Far Gone opens with a scene in which a young man, Ben, is kidnapped by a confused woman, Amanda, who gives him the impossible task of killing her.
Essentially, the film is about processing guilt and how obstinately these kinds of feelings could persist. The two characters show opposite ways of dealing with guilt and the past; that is to say Ben (David Rodgers) has the ability to deal with his mistakes, while Amanda (played by Jamie Lee Parker) is not able to cope with her feelings. In great desperation, she kidnaps Ben and forces him to murder her, enabling her – finally and irrevocably – to deal with her feelings of guilt.
However, while the chosen premise is an intriguing one, Flanagan and Writer Dominic Callander are slightly less successful in its elaboration, perhaps because a number of necessary narrative elements is missing from their end-product. For example, it is not entirely clear why Ben in particular – and not someone else more inclined to violence – is kidnapped by Amanda. The story, and therefore the film itself, would have been stronger if Amanda – for some kind of reason – had necessarily chosen Ben. In the current form, her choice of hostage feels somewhat arbitrary, even when Ben’s past is revealed.
On a technical level, it would be somewhat redundant to heavily scrutinise a film that cost a mere €600 on the front of special effects, editing, set construction or grease paint. While it is relatively straightforward in all of these aspects, this shows a discipline among the makers of Too Far Gone that, had it been absent, could have led to embarrassment. The creators took competent and appropriate – though not particularly imaginative – care of the technical elements of the production then, especially regarding the films budget and years of experience of the crew members.
On a small side note, the film is not as accessible to non-native English speakers as it could be. Since the actors have pronounced Yorkshire accents, viewing this from the perspective of an international audience member, it is sometimes quite hard to understand what has been said. Fortunately, this small problem can be solved relatively easily. Other imperfections in Too Far Gone, however, are somewhat more persistent.
Altogether, while Too Far Gone has several deficiencies, such as not fully elaborated narrative elements like Amanda’s particular choice for Ben, it is an interesting short thriller film with a good premise and a thoughtful plot twist, stressing the one-sidedness of the diametrically opposite characters. In particular, these latter aspects of Too Far Gone show the real promise and potential of the Director and Writer in this genre.
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