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Friday, April 17, 2015

White City Productions Brings Chills To Your Ears In Sci-Fi Short "Iscariot"

"ISCARIOT" (2015)
Genre: Sci-Fi
Length- 6:12
Company: White City Productions
Website: Official

Starship Captain James Bennett (Dino Fetscher) wakes up shackled in a black chair in a blindingly white room.  Two entities begin questioning him -- they identify themselves as Agents Strange (Luke Hope) and Ashcroft (Jade Corrick), and while they appear to have human bodies, he can't see their faces.  And then there's the mysterious voice in the back of his head begging for a code that only he knows, and his exterminated crew --

It's a demanding short film for a no budget production, but financial limitations never stood in the way of a good story, and good sci-fi is hard to find . . .

PLAYING HOST

"Iscariot" is a new short film from director Aleksandra Petrova, hatched from the brain of writer Andy Mihov, and it plays out like one of the better episodes of any version of Star Trek.  We have a strong male personality under siege from external forces beyond his control, and the hint of extraterrestrial menace.  Add to that an insidious, apparently parasitic force trying to take control of Bennett's mind, and you've got pretty much ever sci-fi plot boiled together.

What it may lack in originality, "Iscariot" more than makes up for in its delivery.  There's so much white going on with this film that it lends the events onscreen an almost ethereal, otherworldly air.  From its stellar color design to the intense sound design and sparing but effective score, "Iscariot" rides high on quality production values.  It may not look quite as good as something you'd see in the theater, but it's more than striking enough to suck you in and tell you a good story.

MISSING CODE

The only real complaints I have with the film are fairly small.  First, I felt like something's missing from the storyline because the ending felt a bit too ambiguous for me.  I didn't really understand if the two agents are really who they're saying they are, or if Bennett was telling the truth about his amnesia or even if the room he was in really existed or if it was just a product of his weakening mind.

My second problem was with some of the performers.  Corrick acts well, but her appearance took me out of the film.  Her makeup, hair and youthful look was too goth for me to believe in her role.  Fetscher is awfully young and clean to be Bennett, also.   If he'd been dirtied up more and given a few more bruises here and there it would have helped his believability as well.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3 / 5.  Mihov's script is pretty standard fare for a sci-fi TV show, but it does the job here.  The ending was a bit too ambiguous, but it's more than good enough for Petrova to create a solid film.
Directing: 4 / 5.  Petrova and the director of photography, Kirill Proskura, utilize just about every trick in the book to try and make this film FEEL like it is out of this world.  I loved her choice to wrap everything in white, and those shots of headless suited agents were chilling.  I also liked how she conveyed Bennett's confusion through quick cutting throughout the interrogation.
Editing: 4 / 5.  Petrova and Proskura also handled editing duties, and the film cuts together like a charm.
Sound/Music: 4 / 5.  Jon Henry's "Wickedness" is the only music here -- but a huge part of the success of "Iscariot" is Gethin Rhys Jones' sound design, which is an immaculately crafted panorama of sound.  It could have been a badly mixed mess, but instead every layer of noise is clear and accounted for -- every creepy alien voice and all the interrogators' lines of dialogue and even the white noise in Bennett's brain.
Acting: 3 / 5.  As a whole, the acting was serviceable, with particular praise owed to Fetscher and Corrick, who both wore their characters well in spite of some missteps with makeup and hair.

Final Grade: 3.6 / 5.  

"Iscariot" isn't released online yet, but when it is you can bet I'll put the link up right here so don't forget to check back with me.  Also, don't forget to follow the creators 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!