Director: Richard Powell
Starring: Robert Nolan, Astrida Auza, Cathryn Hostick
John Dodd is a middle aged man who is unhappy about his present state of life. He has a wife, teenage daughter and a job but is haunted by aggressive, sinister thoughts that have been boiling inside of him for quite some time.
He keeps his inner thoughts to himself and so far it has gone ok for him, but now that his wife is expecting a new baby it gets the best of him. He can’t bear the thought of being “locked” by being responsible for another child for twenty more years and instead he unleashed his violent thoughts.
Familiar is an independent Canadian short film that runs for 24 minutes. We’re invited into the mind of John Dodd and except for a few scenes of dialogue, we’re given the narration by the mind of the depressed thoughts of the tired man. For the first ten or so minutes, the viewer are set to believe that this might be a film about John’s inner demons and perhaps the rest will be about his psychological state and what goes on inside of him. I was sure that we would probably see what he hoped would happen to his family and end up being shown that everything that happens was just in his mind.
But, it takes a turn that I doubt anyone would be able to guess. It comes at the exact precise minute where you think you have the rest of the film figured out and that’s executed perfectly. It is a very captivating little short film and it gets quite nasty in the end. I actually felt a little queasy at the end and that’s not something that happens often, especially when it is done without going overboard with gore or violence.
I also enjoy the fact that the film can have some hidden meaning behind it without putting it in front of the viewer. I have my thoughts on what I believe really happened here, which is probably wrong, but I won’t mention it since I don’t want to spoil anything and it should be left open for viewers to interpret the film anyway they want or for them just to enjoy it by what we get to see.
Robert Nolan has to do a good job as John Dodd for this film to work. We have to feel some sort of sympathy with him while he is still showing these violent and disgusting thoughts. Nolan is experienced enough to pull it off and gives an emotional portrayal of a middle aged man who is tired of his life. I also wanna say that it is quite refreshing to see a film be about someone who is not in their 20’s for once.
Richard Powell is the writer and director of this piece. He has done two previous short films called Consumption and Worm before of this. He shows some promise here and seems to know how to construct, narrate and pace a film correctly. It is not an easy task to have a film with voiceover work and they do it perfectly. The only negative aspect is the few very small quick edits in the middle of Dodd’s madness that I could have done without, but that is honestly nitpicking.
Familiar is something so rare as a film that is able to surprise even reviewers who watch movies daily. It is executed very well, it has a perfect length for the material and shows a huge potential of the Fatal Pictures team. I wish it was a part of an anthology film or something like that so more people would be able to see it since I’m sure most people will enjoy this film. If you get the chance then grab the opportunity to see Familiar.
I would also like to say thanks to Fatal Pictures for allowing me to check out this film.