Short Film Review “In The Woods”

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First, the Recap:

Retribution. When wronged, our desire to take personal action to get exactly that often takes over. It doesn’t think, only reacts. And there is the search within it for answers, truths, that we think will satisfy our innate need for justice. And, it can push a regular human being to tread into places they’ve never thought possible. Harry Sheperd (Alpha Trivette) is one such man. What looks like the almost routine fixing of a post-work, late afternoon snack for two is, at its core, precisely that. At least until we see him taking this repast away from the confines of his gated community home and into the dark, dingy recesses of a basement specially, though sparsely, prepared for a sole occupant.

Harry gazes upon said denizen–an imposing figure of a man, tied to a support post in chains, his face marred by previous punishment. Harry’s intentional movements and calm outward demeanor hide what the is really boiling below the surface as he, setting the food down, begins to converse with “The Beast” (John Kap). An eerily philosophical, borderline Shakespearean wordplay reveals the reasons why this man has been in such condition for a month–the death, possibly murder, of Harry’s wife (Amanda Martins)–and this man he believes is responsible. But as the two ominously banter back and forth, Harry’s search for answers and “The Beast’s” logical manner begin to re-paint the picture of the incident, told in flashback, and the mystery of what actually happened in the woods, becomes an even deeper enigma.

Next, my Mind:

Writer/Director/Producer Brett Bagwell and co-producer Marquis C. Mosley of Atlanta, GA-based South Wind Pictures deliver a tight, unique, smart thriller with their 20-minute short film offering. Filmed in such a way as to take an initially normal home setting, transition it to the dungeon-like atmosphere of “The Beast’s” basement prison, and then bring it all full circle to the daytime, yet haunting, imagery in the woods, it leaves the viewer with the intended feeling of foreboding the story’s creepy premise invites. And what, for this reviewer, became even more effective is the finale, which if taken at face value, seems to have answered the mystery being explored. Or has it?

Veteran actor Alpha Trivette is perfectly cast as Harry, able to bring out the character’s methodical, poised, yet desperate measures to try and make sense of his wife’s demise and find the killer who did it. Trivette’s delivery alone commands attention, and again, is done so with such a calm outward presence, that it truly belies the inner torment and misery Harry is experiencing. Likewise, John Kap very solidly brings out the dichotomy in the nature of “The Beast”. Sharper in mind than one would initially expect, “The Beast’s” words almost act more as a foil against Harry’s insistence of guilt than providing any outright belief the killer is actually present. And Kap’s telling of the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” fable is an additionally frightening monologue.

In total, “In The Woods” takes the typical “who done it” murder tale, couples it with the concept of a vigilante’s search for payback and closure, and turns it all on its head to ultimately reveal a very taut independent short film project that is worthy of viewing and recognizing.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!


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