FAMILIAR – Short Film Review
FAMILIAR (2011) is the newest short film from Fatal Pictures, produced by Zach Green, written and directed by Richard Powell, and starring Robert Nolan as John Dodd. This trio of morbidly creative filmmakers are churning out some very intriguing work on what I will simply call a truly indie budget, with a truly indie mindset and determination.
John is an average, uncharismatic husband and father in FAMILIAR, a man who is far from enthusiastic about his relationship with his wife Charlotte, played by Astrida Auza. Charlotte is anything but on the same wavelength as John, who considers her a prison sentence, one from which he secretly wishes an escape by whatever means necessary. There’s an underlying source of John’s disdain for Charlotte, but to give that away would in some part ruin the story.
FAMILIAR is an unconventional narrative, as nearly the entire film is told through voice over, conveying John’s troubled and demented thought process as he goes through his daily visage of being an otherwise typical family man. This technique of storytelling works well enough, but I couldn’t help but find myself wanting more direct dialogue between the characters, perhaps to further detail the state of the family relationship.
Robert Nolan once again nails the eerie, skin-crawling character traits he’s becoming known for to fans of Powell’s films. The key to FAMILIAR, however, is the twist which develops unbeknownst to John Dodd, revealing itself in the end. This is the really tough part about writing a review of FAMILIAR, in that I so so so want to talk about the afore-mentioned twist, but to do so without treading carefully would defeat the effort of seeing the film for yourself. So, what I will say is that the film reminded me – in a complimentary way – of a cross between the style of David Cronenberg’s films such as eXistenZ and a certain cult film from director Jack Sholder.
FAMILIAR features some really cool, considerably shocking special effects, all of which are packed into the final moments of the 24-minute short film. This, along with Nolan’s performance and the film’s dark, creepy atmosphere – aided greatly by the cinematography of Michael Jari Davidson – creates an all-too uncomfortably familiar caricature of a dysfunctional family.
While the premise of the film may seem as familiar as the title itself, Powell takes an idea once explored and ventures off into another parallel concept that works equally well. FAMILIAR takes the audience one step closer to the inevitable feature film debut of the exciting indie filmmaking collaborative, a project I am told is potentially in the works very soon. This makes me smile, deviously.