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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Short Crime Drama "Samaritan": A Challenging Indie

"SAMARITAN"
Length: 5:11
Company: In Retrospect Productions
Website: YouTube Account


DAMNED IF YOU DO . . .

There is nothing easy about making short films.  If you're too enthusiastic, you look amateurish; if you try for a more serious tone and keep it slow, you can be dismissed as being artsy fartsy, or a boring filmmaker.  Certain genres are more forgiving of this than others.  Today's review, "Samaritan", is essentially a playful drama.  It straddles a fine line between silliness and gravity, and for the most part it rides the wave well.

KEEPING PACE

Running a scant five minutes and eleven seconds, "Samaritan" doesn't have any time to waste if it's to tell  story, and writer/director R.D. Leone knows that.  Effective wide and establishing shots linger just long enough to get you to feel the setting and get into the story.

And speaking of setting, the train station just works.  It provides a serious boost in the apparent production value of the film, and provides a suitably gritty backdrop for the questionable goings on. 

LIKE HOMEMADE APPLE PIE

I can't give away much plot detail without spoiling the whole thing, so suffice it to say it's a crime story with a twist.  I saw it coming almost immediately, but then I've seen a lot of films in my day.  Even so, it still works and it provides some levity to the film. 

Zaven Stepanian (billed as "Kiddo" in the film) is a sufficiently wholesome looking child, probably twelve years old or thereabouts, and he is the titular good Samaritan, helping to thwart a mugging-in-progress.  The assailant ("Grifter", played by a gruff looking Alex Denney) takes out his anger on the boy, who then flees.  The grifter follows, and what ensues is a pretty solid chase sequence that is edited to near perfection.  We can't help but like Kiddo -- he's just so damn wholesome and sweet looking -- and we can only imagine how awful it would be if this criminal gets a hold of him. 

THE DRAWBACKS

There isn't a single line of dialogue throughout the entire film, and honestly it's probably for the best that there isn't.  Any spoken words would come off as on-the-nose and obvious.  It does cause a lack of immersion in the world of the film, though, as there's no other sound for the most part, not even music for the most part until Massive Attack's "Angel" gets played randomly in the background.  It works well enough, but it's out of place. 

The acting is also hit or miss.  Wendy Wilkie is "Damsel", and she does what she can with the role, I suppose, although when the train is coming and she checks her watch, it looks overly theatrical.  Kiddo maintains the same facial expression throughout the entire film, even when he's being chased by the mugger.   Alex Denney's grifter grumps around.   Everything is very one dimensional.

CONCLUSION

The shining light through all of this is R.D. Leone's direction.  The story is fairly intricate for a five minute film, but Leone handles the pacing perfectly.  The camera placement is effective, and the editing is spot on.  You're never bored through this flick, and that's something to be said, particularly in this post-MTV entertainment world.

All in all, "Samaritan" is the product of a singular vision that delivers a tongue in cheek crime drama with a little twist at the end.  It's not a bad way to spend five minutes of your time.

Overall Scores:

Writing: 2 / 5.  There are basically three scenes that comprise the film, and there's not a whole lot beyond the build up to the twist, which once again I saw coming from a mile away.  The writing is serviceable, but little more than that.
Directing: 4 / 5.  R.D. Leone puts together a pretty tight presentation of the limited material.  The cameras serve up what we need to see, and they do it with some style.
Editing: 4 / 5.  As good as Leone's direction is, if it wasn't for the super tight editing, that chase scene wouldn't hold half as much tension.  It's just as good as chases in far larger budgeted features.
Sound/Music: 2 / 5.  There's hardly any sound in this film, and barely any music.  Massive Attack's song is functional, but . . . not reflective of what's on screen at all. 
Acting: 2.5 / 5.  None of the characters onscreen are represented by serious actors.  Everything is very amateurish.

Final Grade: 2.9.  "Samaritan" sets out to be an inoffensive, humorous little crime drama, and it succeeds.  There's not a whole lot of substance, but the filmmakers are clearly skilled.  I'd like to see what else they can come up with in the future!

To watch the full length film and to get in touch with In Retrospect Productions, check out producer Christopher Houston's YouTube page here!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Exclusive: Interview with Lee Matthews ("3:00 AM", "The Quiet") of I'm With Them Productions

You may have heard of I'm With Them Productions for their numerous short films available for viewing and purchase online, including "3:00 AM", "COD", "Troy", "Shrove Tuesday" and most recently "The Quiet".

Recently, we reviewed "3:00 AM" right here on the Forest City Short Film Review.  Writer/director/editor Lee Matthews was gracious enough to answer a few burning questions for us.  Check it out!

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FCSFR: Lee, the official www. imwiththemproductions.com  lists your influences as primarily 70s and 80s British horror TV shows. In terms of feature films, what are some of your favorites and which filmmakers do you admire?

LEE MATTHEWS: I tend to like films/filmmakers that aren't necessarily popular or held in high-regard. This isn't a deliberate shun of the mainstream, I just prefer more esoteric stories, as I'd say I'm quite an eccentric person and my taste reflects this. One of my favorite films is Repo Man (written and directed by Alex Cox). Cox subsequently didn't go on to make anything of any real worth (in my humble opinion), but this film was a major influence on me and continues to be as I write and direct. I do like some mainstream films (Jaws is my all time favorite, with Aliens being a close second), but I abhor the 'cookie-cutter' style of film making commonly associated with big budgets.

How'd you two get into filmmaking? What made you decide to go the Do-It-Yourself route?

I took the usual route to begin with (University and then working for food on some low-budget films), but I lost interest due to the amount of restrictions at the time (this was the 90s - before the luxury of HDSLRs and Abode Premiere on a laptop). I didn't become interested in creating my own films again until about 15 years later, when decent low budget filmmaking tools became readily available. Jobs in the media are as rare as rocking horse shit, so after a couple years of knocking on doors and being told 'no', I decided to go freelance and now work as a cameraman/video editor. My own indie filmmaking has now become part of this.

How did you meet (producer)Rachael Groom?

I met Rachael when I was volunteering at a music festival. I had no idea she was actually a keen filmmaker in her own right until months after when she casually mentioned a short film she had been involved with. From then on our combined passion for creating stories has been almost feverish, and we've produced over 10 projects in little over a year. 

"3:00 AM" and "Shrove Tuesday" are pretty straight forward horror films, but you've also created some effective comedies, including "Cod" and "Muppet, Muppet". Are there any other genres you'd be interested in pursuing?

Horror is a genre that works well for us because it has such a wide appeal. I would like to try some more drama-based pieces, but it can be difficult to find audiences for more character driven work, so we have to be realistic with which projects we decide to commission.  Sci-Fi is also a genre that appeals, but from a more realistic dystopian perspective.

What are some of the different challenges you face when you try to create a solid independent horror versus a comedy?

Horror is a lot easier to create (at as a rule) than comedy. It's a lot less subjective so the appeal tends to not be affected by trends, nationality, age etc. Comedy is a difficult genre to establish an audience with. My comedy leanings are toward the surreal (The Monty Python movies are a big influence, as is Airplane) so you find yourself narrowing your appeal even more. My rule of thumb when writing funny stories is that if I find it funny it stays. I'm not sure it's a formula that works, but the comedies that we've created have found dedicated followers so it must work to a certain degree.

Tell us a little bit about "The Quiet", your upcoming short. A true story?

Yes, Actually the true story is far more terrifying than what we've managed to create. But it at least gave us something solid to work from. There have been some elaborations for the sake of storytelling, but we've stuck fairly closely to the real-life events. It's our must ambitious project to date.

What scares you? 

The same things as most people...spiders...clowns... the unknown. I think ghosts are more frightening than men with axes. But having said that I'd rather not come across either walking back late at night from the pub.

What is your writing process? Take us from an initial concept through the final draft.


To use '3:00AM' as an example, the idea came to me as a series of events that were linked by a woman on her own in her house late at night. I think it was stirred by a story my sister had told me whilst her husband was working away. She kept hearing noises throughout the night and her imagination was playing tricks on her constantly for about 6 hours. High Tension (the French film) was an inspiration. That film is an exercise in building tension through a series of scenes, and '3:00AM' is based on the same principle. So it was created, initially, as a concept, rather than a story. A way to terrify woman who live on their own basically (I'm cruel).

Besides "The Quiet", what might viewers expect to see in the future from I'm With Them Productions? 

The old cliche really...the feature.  We are currently working on the script for a Sci-Fi Horror called 'They Eat People, Don't They'. 

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We'd like to say a big THANK YOU to Lee Matthews for taking the time to answer our questions!

Keep in touch with I'm With Them Productions!   Check out all their films at their website here and don't forget to "friend" them on Facebook!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sci-Fi "Souvenir": Stunning Post-Apocalyptic Visuals Make For A Unique Short Film Experience!

"SOUVENIR"
Length: 6:25
Company: Apparatus G Studios
Website: YouTube Account



"THIS IS THE END, MY FRIENDS . . . "

There just aren't that many low budget science fiction films, and there's even fewer that are any good.  The sort of story that makes for a solid sci-fi film usually require intense visuals that are simply impossible to deliver without millions of dollars for mindblowing special effects.

Well, I'm pleased to report that "Souvenir", a short film from Apparatus G Studios and Borderline Movies, is more than happy to take on all the weight of viewer expectations, and not only that, they deliver.  They actually deliver, and it only takes a few minutes of screen time.

A BALANCING ACT


You can't fit a whole lot into six and a half minutes, so I get that the story needs to be brief, and the emphasis of the film has to be the delivery -- it's not the destination, it's the journey, in other words.  But "Souvenir" takes that ball and runs with it: beyond the first scene, there is no conflict to speak of, and no character development.  In lesser hands, this would have killed the film, but the artistry displayed here by writer/director Mario Orman and director of photography/producer Gabriel Covacich elevates an otherwise pedestrian plot to a beautiful viewing experience.

Watching this film is akin to viewing a moving painting.  It's ugly and bleak, and beautiful and visonary, all wrapped up into one.  For such a short viewing experience, it packs a lot of feeling.

THE PROPER EXECUTION

"Souvenir" is a Last Man on Earth story -- literally.  From the first moment of the film, as the darkness becomes wreckage, ruin and blowing dirt and debris.  One man (Gabriel Smith) stands in the path of a victorious alien army -- and the aliens, oh the aliens, they float through the air like massive, ethereal jellyfish, and they look properly celestial and mindblowing.  For being a low budget production, the special effects in this film are absolutely astounding.

Rather than face a future as a lone human, on the run for God only knows how long, he sticks the barrel of his gun against the side of his head and closes his eyes.

Any more plot information would ruin the enjoyment of the film, but suffice it to say that things do not end so simply for the last man on Earth.

I can't begin to say how amazed I was watching this film.  The special effects, the production values, the photography, all the hard, physical aspects of "Souvenir" blew my expectations out of the park.  The audacity shown by director of photography and producer Gabriel Covacich is inspiring, and the fact that every shot is sold so well that you believe in this alternate reality is no small feat. 

But the special effects aren't everything.  Writer and director Mario Orman puts together a smooth, emotional show, with surprisingly long shots that allow the viewer to really immerse themselves in the awesome visuals.

The sound design is also top notch.  Glitch provides the soundtrack -- they blow away the end credits and nail the tone of "Souvenir" with their tense, tinkly electronic sound.  

The dream sequence was pretty clever, I have to admit -- what sort of dreams would a man trapped in a living nightmare have?  It set up the ultra bleak ending perfectly.

A ONE MAN SHOW

And speaking of tone, it wouldn't have been possible without a strong central performance.  Gabriel Smith is the lone actor in the film, and though there's no proper dialogue, he made me believe his plight from the moment I first saw him on screen.  And his reaction to the titular souvenir toward the end of the film is priceless.  He gives this show his all.  Never for a moment did he waver, or go overly theatrical.

There's only so much one actor can do with a passive character.  It's in the writing where the negatives to "Souvenir" show.  First of all, as I hinted at earlier, there is literally no conflict whatsoever, and the protagonist doesn't do anything the entire film.  Also, I don't quite understand how we went from the attempted suicide to the second half of the film.  I didn't entirely buy that.

The running time above is misleading in a way, because it's really a four minute movie -- the end credits are extended, taking up two minutes of the running time.  Some people on the YouTube page complained about this, but I actually really liked it.  Glitch's music was intriguing enough for it to provide a proper auditory epitaph for the human race.


CONCLUSION

There is a lot to like about "Souvenir", and I for one would LOVE to see this become a full length feature.  I want to learn more about these aliens, and what it meant for the world to be blown away.  I'd like to get to know our protagonist, and see how he wound up being the last example of humanity on the planet.


Overall Scores:

Writing: 2.5 / 5.  The story is bare bones and the protagonist is essentially a passive victim in the face of an unstoppable alien threat.  The dream sequence was clever and I appreciated that twist, but even so, "Souvenir" could have used a slightly bigger canvas upon which to deliver its potent images.
Directing: 4 / 5.  Mario Orman delivers a solid, mature film, proving he's perfectly capable of moving, long shots and tense, intimate sequences.
Editing: 4 / 5.  The production values were incredibly high considering the low budget, and the editing is no different.  What story there is unfolds at a good click, and the editing provides you plenty of time to drink in the bleak atmosphere.
Sound/Music: 4 / 5.  Glitch's song was spot on perfect for the purposes of the film.  The sound was mixed well -- nothing seemed overly loud or too quiet. 
Acting: 4 / 5.  Gabriel Smith was perfect for the role.  He conjured sympathy, sadness and fear with just his eyes.  He works wonders with what he was given.

Final Grade3.5 / 5.  "Souvenir" delivers an impressive punch for being such a short film.  It rises above what little limitations it has to bring about some phenomenal visuals and a nihilistic tone that will stick in your head for a while.  Its screenplay is somewhat limited, but "Souvenir" knows exactly what it wants to do, and it does it exceptionally well.

For more information on "Souvenir", including the full length streaming short film, check out Apparatus G's official YouTube channel!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

DOUBLE DOSE of Indie Fun: psych thriller "DRAIN" and action "Hostile Ground'!

For this week's DOUBLE DOSE of short film awesomeness, we're covering two effective indies that feature impressive direction and cinematography on shoestring budgets.

Without further ado, let's get our DOUBLE DOSE going!

First off, we have "DRAIN" -- a short psychological thriller from YouTube user JamieDugganFilms. 

"DRAIN" is barely over two minutes in length, so it is nearly impossible to tell you anything about it without giving away spoilers, but suffice it to say that our migraine tortured protagonist owes money to someone not very nice.  This is the springboard for what is actually a quite effective bit of intensifying tension, followed by what might loosely be called a twist ending, though honestly it's not hard to guess what the outcome will be as soon as the pill popping begins.

The beauty of "DRAIN" is in the details.  The intro is creepy and effective.  The soundtrack is a  simple but atmospheric piano lurching from note to note.   We see close ups of a bloody bathroom drain, but rather than the blood dripping, it does the opposite: it slowly creeps away, recalled from whence it came. 

The acting, while certainly not perfect, it does the job.  The actors themselves are young, I'm guessing near the age of twenty, but that's not overly distracting because, first of all, they play their roles pretty well but also because there's no age limit on owing people money.
 
There are a number of truly spectacular shots as the main character awaits the arrival of the antagonist.   The car's headlights slashing through the curtains, and the protagonist resting on the couch -- it's all done very well.  The camera keep moving throughout each shot, which helps add a certain energy to the film. 

The migraine headache sequence is also pretty effective, with the scene fading in and out and the film jumping and lagging to accentuate the protagonist's misery.  This is a man on the edge to begin with, and we get that.   The whole headache angle never really enters the picture later on in the film either, so it feels unnecessary.  Cool effect, though.

The antagonist kicks open the front door, and the guns come out and nothing will ever be the same.
Sound generic?  Well, that's probably because it is, when you get right down to it.  It makes sense, it's all very cause and effect.  But what do you expect from a short that's 2 minutes long?  There's not a lot of room for nuances. 

"DRAIN" comes off as more of a test run than anything else -- a "do you think we can do that?" sort of thing, and the answer is undeniably yes.  Writer/director Jamie Duggan and actor Josiah Jirgens do a great job at creating and maintaining tension and delivering a story to the public.   The only problem is that to create an effective psychological thriller, you have to have the time to string the audience along.  It's impossible to cause the right kind of unease in two minutes.

I give "DRAIN" a 2 out of 5 score.  It does what it sets out to do, and manages to show off a few cool shots in the process.  On the negative side, there's just not a whole lot going on here, and the migraine thing feels tacked on.  That being said, I'm definitely interested in seeing more from JamieDugganFilms when they start tackling more elaborate productions.

Watch "DRAIN" right now!

Check out JamieDugganFilms on YouTube for more films!





Now then, then now: let's talk about our second short film for this week's DOUBLE DOSE: short action film "Hostile Ground" from Violent Visuals' writer/director/all around film guru Tom Reed and assistant director and writer Logan Currin. 

"Hostile Ground" is similar in some respects to "DRAIN" in that it's got some cool shots (quite a few, actually, thanks to its 10 minute length) and some great direction, but not a whole lot going on as far as story is concerned.  But storyline is not the strong point of most action films, so the question remains: does "Hostile Ground" deliver cool fight scenes and plenty of gunplay?

The answer to both questions is actually yes -- quite impressive for a film with such a miniscule budget. 

The prodution values on "Hostile Ground" are pretty astounding.  The credits sequence at the beginning is top notch, and could have provided the intro to a full length feature.  On the negative side, it's about as long as a full length film's credits, which takes an awful lot of time from the meager ten minutes of running time.

But once the film gets going, it's pretty much straight forward action.  We have a hitman hired to take out a dangerous killer in a bloody to-the-death confrontation.  There's a short phone conversation between the hitman and his boss, but apart from that, there really isn't any dialogue, which is merciful because the acting chops just are not up to the standard of the rest of the film.

This is essentially a well made student film, which means the actors are very young (late teens, I'm guessing), and therefore completely unbelievable in their roles.  There's nothing very dangerous looking about either men, but you can bypass your disbelief and just enjoy the ride.

And make no mistake, there's no shortage of good stuff to take a look at.  The tables are turned on the hitman by his prey, and suddenly there's a shootout -- an honest to God shootout in an indie short -- and then a hand to hand conflict (which doesn't make much sense, since the hitman had another gun in his coat -- why not just shoot and kill and be done with it?) that is surprisingly well choreographed. 

In a lot of independent films, all the punches and kicks look staged, and you can easily see where they pulled the punch to prevent hurting the actors.  Not so here.  Some of those punches are delivered so well by the director that they honestly look painful.

All the fighting and the struggles are entertaining, but weird occurrences plague the film from start to finish.  If you're engaged in a shootout, do you really text for backup?  I could see calling -- it's hands free -- but texting?  Also, if you've gotten your ass kicked and you finally get the upper hand, why on earth would you turn your back on your opponent, as apparently hurt as they might be? 

That being said, there's a lot to like about "Hostile Ground".  It's ambitious, well staged, and there's not much talking so the acting is something of a non-issue. 

Like "DRAIN", the makers of "Hostile Ground" knew what they were making and what people expect, and they actually managed to deliver the goods.  It's quite an impressive feat, and I will definitely be checking out more of Violent Visuals' works in the future.

I give "Hostile Ground" a 2.5 out of 5 score.  It knows what it's about and is unapologetic about that fact.  In ten short minutes, you get fancy transitions, crisp shots and excellent direction, a shoot out and hand-to-hand combat scene and plenty of blood. 

They could definitely succeed with a feature length genre film.  I can't wait to see it.





Watch "Hostile Ground" right now!


Check out Violent Visuals' Facebook page and YouTube page here!

Monday, April 1, 2013

"3:00 AM" Delivers Frights After Midnight!

"3:00 AM"
Length: 10:46
Company: I'm With Them Productions
Website: imwiththemproductions.com


A Bump in the Night . . .

Horror films have a serious problem.  Too many are more reliant on special effects, gore and overtly disturbing content while disregarding such matters as pacing, suspense and characters that we can root for. 

This happily is not the case for "3:00 AM", one of the latest short films from I'm With Them Productions, a film production company led by Award Winning writer/director/editor Lee Matthews and former BBC producer Rachel Groom.  If you're into flicks that get under your skin and make you question whether that shadow in your bedroom is indeed just a shadow,  then you'll find that I'm With Them's short film does in a little over ten minutes what most big box office scarefests can't manage with a full length movie. 

Frights After Midnight

The story is about as simple as you could possibly imagine.   A young woman named Georgia, played by a very credible Charlotte Armstrong, lives alone in the English countryside.  The opening moments are beautifully shot, perfectly evoking the gorgeous and quite silent countryside.

So she's isolated, you say.  Big deal.

Well there is quite a big deal, you see, because our poor protagonist is losing sleep.  Lots of it.  You see, someone or something is calling her at 3:00 AM sharp, again and again.  Later on, we learn exactly what kind of call this is -- and it's not the slasher film style dirty old man talk or the "I'm upstairs" terror tactics. 

I'm not going to spoil it for you, but it's genuinely frightening, and I guarantee you'll start eyeing your own phone late at night with new eyes.

The visuals in this film are just striking.  Even the trees look lonely in these wide country landscapes, and the long plains slope up and down like a green tidal wave, eternal and endless.  Seemingly equally endless is the night itself, and every scene is broken into great shots handpicked to make the most out of every scare.

And speaking of scares, yes, there are a few.  While most of the film is a slowburn of tension as we
wait for the phone call, there are also some jump scares, but I have to say that there is an odd sound effect that accompanies the moment, and it took me out of the story.  Thankfully, the rest of the film is so well made, professionally shot and well acted that it was easy to slip back into the folds of the horror at hand.

Limitations of the Form

But let's talk about the acting for a moment.   Charlotte Armstrong does what she can, but there's just not that much to do in this picture but look scared.  To her credit, she pulls a surprising amount of nuance in her role, but again, there's not a lot of range necessary here.  This is in part due to the obvious restrictions of such a short film, but her performance in the off-screen phone call at the beginning comes off a little bland.

But a little over half way through, when she discovers the children's toy playing music all on its own, her reactions are priceless.

But to continue to illustrate my point, there's just not a whole lot a filmmaker can do with this type of picture.  It's essentially a haunted house film, and in a haunted house film you follow around the protagonist, who creeps around a spooky house for the bulk of the short running time.

That being said, it's important to note that sometimes, what the story says isn't as important as how it is said, and what I'm With Them Productions has done with "3:00 AM" is something of a marvel.  They pull off a solid haunted house spook show within ten minutes.  Literally everything about this film is professional caliber.  Nothing feels low budget, cheap or "on the nose".

The writing is limited thanks to very little dialogue and not much physical action, but again, that's due to the form in which Matthews is working.

There's only so many ways to scare people with darkness, but "3:00 AM" emerges as a prime example of what these films can be if they are done with this same respect and artistry.

The Beauty of Audio

The soundtrack is solid, and adds a creepiness to those initial, seemingly idyllic scenes at the beginning of the film.  The tinkling music box tune is unnerving as well.

But beyond the music, the sound is where "3:00 AM" really shines.  The film is very dark, at some points pitch black, so what we hear is equally if not more frightening than what we see.

The phone call, when we finally see it, is a great example of this.  You have to watch it.  I'm not going to spoil it for you.


Final Thoughts

Everything about this flick is top notch, and it never oversteps its bounds, never lapses tonally, and is true to what it sets out to do, which is get under your skin and make you jump. 

And maybe look at your telephone a little different when the clock on your bedside table ticks over to 3 . . .

Conclusion

Coming from the Award-Winning team of I'm With Them Productions, "3:00 AM" has a lot to offer, so check it out!  Producer Rachael Groom has been involved with several big time projects for the BBC, and freelance writer, director and all around creative genius Lee Matthews has netted an astonishing nine awards.  They are currently working on their first feature film together entitled They Eat People Don't They?

Overall Scores:

Writing: 3 / 5.  There wasn't a whole lot going on here -- it's basically a haunted house ride, but writer Lee Matthews did as much as is possible to do within the genre.
Directing: 4 / 5.  I really enjoyed the way the camera played with its surroundings.  The visuals were top notch, and every scene felt fully realized and deliberate.  Matthews played it close to the chest and didn't go MTV with this one, which I for one much appreciated. 
Editing: 4 / 5.  The pacing was spot on, and no single scene played too long.  Also, I want to personally thank Matthews for freaking me the heck out with that Jack-in-the-Box.  I jumped.  Just sayin'.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  The soundtrack was good, and it never overstepped its means.  It brought a certain menace to the proceedings.  The only drawback was the jump scare "screech" noises, which pulled me out of the story.
Acting3.5 /5.  Rachael Groom did well as Izzy, present only over the phone, but she performed the part well and sounded genuinely concerned for Georgia's wellbeing.  Charlotte Armstrong played the lead, Georgia, and did well with what she was given for the most part.  She didn't sell that opening phone call for me, but it's a small complaint and other than that, she was spot on.

Final Grade: 3.5 / 5.  "3:00 AM" does its job and does it spectacularly well, but the type of story we're seeing here is one we've seen numerous times before.  That being said, Matthews and Groom put on a darn good show, one that succeeds despite a very low budget (70 pounds, according to their website) thanks to the overwhelming creative strength and professionalism in the story's delivery.  This is one of the finest examples of haunted house filmmaking I've seen, in short or long form. 

For more information on "3:00 AM", including the full length streaming short film, check out I Am With Them Productions' website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page.

Already a fan?  Buy this short film here!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!