WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
First, the Recap:
When everything around you that was customary and safe has been swept away, how do you cope? Every possible thing that inhabited your perceptible senses is simply, utterly gone. A foundation of the present and mental state of peace amidst the chaotic world surrounding you–faded away or made a barren husk of its former self. Yes, how would you weather your existence without stability? Hux (Mageina Tovah) knows this reality all too well. Battling an already fragmented and fragile state of being, Hux’s newly formed actuality is now centered on a precise yet grandly tenuous routine, notwithstanding the abject fear and non-socialized air that surrounds her seemingly erratic but structured behavior. Contact with others is virtually non-existent in the wasteland in which she resides.
Still making desperate efforts to only barely interact as needed with the few people she encounters, like a local cowboy (Dylan Kenin), as well as the supply store cashier (Ben Messmer) she sees when stocking up on needed items. Trying hard to be able to communicate effectively with these individuals, Hux’s confining and debilitating phobias and nerve-frayed emotions get the best of her. When home, Hux retreats into memories of better days as a child (Logan Morris) with her beloved Grandpa (Harry Dean Stanton) and the unconditional love and connection she had with him. As time continues to pass, Hux’s patterns repeat until one day, on the verge of total collapse, a small miracle (Aurora Elise) enters her disconnected life and heralds welcomed change.
Next, my Mind:
With a completely fresh, emotionally visceral, and firmly grounded execution, writer/director/producer/editor/lead actress Tovah holds nothing back with this incredibly human take on a post-end-of-the-world scenario whose narrative shines an all too relatable light on the delicate nature of the psyche in the midst of desolate circumstance and unexpected loss. Filmed with a raw, dusty, arid landscape as its backdrop, thus presenting a far more rooted and realistic setting for the story, the 12-minute effort keeps its well-edited pacing throughout and gives the viewer a very intense, sometimes even jarring, glimpse into the shattered world of Hux and her deeply compressed tendencies and plights. Add the utilization of a perfectly chosen song, “Lay Low” by Shovels and Rope, and the atmosphere created is truly one of intentionally high anxiety and frustration tempered by the power found in fond memory and newly established hope.
Tovah’s performance as Hux was nothing short of astounding for this reviewer, as she embodies the character with such overt fierceness, passion, drive, and determination that there are moments where one might think she herself is literally losing grip on inner stability in the film. It’s the sincerity in her delivery and the uninhibited method by which she emotes every nuance of the character that very much provides the film its necessary backbone and undisguised, stirring poignancy. This is her tale to tell, and Hux’s quirks and apprehensions just resonate. Apropos supporting turns by Kenin, Messmer, veteran character actor Stanton, and Morris are affecting as well, but the moments between Tovah and Elise put a final, simply placed, highly effective punch to the film’s finale and leave the viewer satisfied and filled with Hux’s same surprised, albeit restrained, joy of unanticipated bonding with another.
In total, “Hux” is a fantastically orchestrated indie short film effort that certainly warrants festival awards and beyond. It also serves to demonstrate once again how much worthy talent and stories are out there to be had in this abbreviated medium, and that as short as the runtime may be, it can still hit you just as powerfully in the heart.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!