Forgiveness or Murder: "In This Myth of Vengeance" Short Film Exclusive Review!

Length - 14:04
Company: MR Presents
Website:  Official

"In This Myth of Vengeance" carries with it themes about as weighty as you're going to find crammed into barely fourteen minutes of screen time.  This film, the latest by writer/director/producer Matthew P. Rojas, follows a pair of hitmen and the thread of grief that will seal each other's fate.

The film has finished its festival run and is now available to be viewed on Vimeo.  

Now then, let's dig in, shall we?


C.S. Lewis addressed the argument of how pain can exist in a world made by a perfect god in The Problem of Pain, and it is this essay that inspired "In This Myth of Vengeance".  The theme is heard loud and clear, with three different lines repeated again and again over the course of the film.  It gets to be a bit heavy handed by the end, but the importance of the message is enough to make me ignore that. 

This is a story that needs to be told, a question that needs to be raised: why is it OK to hit back?  Why is it OK to answer violence with violence, when the initial violent act was only perpetrated in response to some precursor,some other unknown but awful happening?

This point is laid most bare when Mr. Sapphire (Nathan Marlow) hires Ananias (Nickolas A. Lopez) to kill Humane (Chase Austin), the hit man who murdered his wife.  Apparently, it is completely lost on Sapphire that Humane acted out of self interest, i.e. money, no different from the very man he is now hiring.

And on that note, all three men get considerable screen time to state their case, either through dialogue or simple visuals: they are ALL damaged, ALL victims despite the heinous crimes they commit.

So is it possible for any of our three tainted leads to find salvation instead of pursuing murder to its horrible and inevitable dead end?

Is there, in fact, always a choice between doing good or evil?


"In This Myth of Vengeance" is a beautifully shot piece of work, with each frame oozing style while galloping at a hundred miles an hour the entire way.  Rojas' directing work is reminiscent of early Sam Raimi -- always, always moving.  The result is not perfect -- at times I felt like I was watching a teaser trailer for another film -- but when it's on, it is ON, with the pulsating and squawking soundtrack and ticking clock sound effects creating a virtual panic attack on screen.

Austin and Lopez are excellent as our two hit men, delivering their lines honestly and professionally.  Marlow delivers a star turn as well, speaking wordy lines but still coming off as legitimate and real.

Also, the fight scene in this film between Ananias and Frank the Serpent (Paul Serna) is one of the best choreographed battles I've seen in a short film.  The violence feels REAL, and that is no small accomplishment.

Rojas has surrounded himself with a great team, and the result is a visually appealing short film from start to finish.  Director of Photography Andrei Matthias deserves a special mention, as some of the shots captured here are far better than most of those in your average low budget short.


Writing: 3 / 5.  A lot of thought and a lot of ambition went into penning this story, taking inspiration from great source material.  The thematic content comes off a little heavy, but the message is a good one, and there is certainly more to think about from this short film than in most feature length Hollywood pictures.
Directing: 4 / 5.  Rojas puts on a good show and delivers a fairly complicated story.  Sometimes, the camera work is too clever and comes off as odd rather than compelling, but overall, it's solid.
Editing: 2.5 / 5.  The fast cutting was a little much for me, and too frequent, and some of the transition choices -- for instance, the film projector thing -- didn't pay off for me, and made me wonder why they were there.  The film moves FAST, so follow along carefully.
Sound/Music: 5 / 5.  The sound and music in this film are just astounding.  Anyone who eventually views this online had better put on earphones, because there is just so much going on in the audio that you are NOT going to get the full experience out of desktop speakers.  The audio makes this movie what it is.
Acting: 4 / 5. Austin and Lopez work wonders with what little they're given, and Marlow manages to make his lines not only believable but meaningful.  Anne DeFilippo plays Marlow's wife, and she does what she can with only a few seconds of screen time.  Paul Serna fights Lopez, but he has no lines.

Final Grade: 3.7 / 5.

Do NOT miss "In This Myth of Vengeance" on Vimeo (the Director's Cut).  When you're done watching, check out MR Presents, and say hi to writer/director/producer Matthew P. Rojas on Facebook!

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!