Short Film Review “The Twisted Doll”



First, the Recap:

Vindictive recrimination. When a wrong has been perpetrated, especially one whose subsequent ramifications have been overtly and irrevocably damaging, the desire for retribution wells up within, wanting to see our own form of justice done against those that carried out the act. Whether this is the truly logical or remotely best course to take is buried in a haze of resentment and blind anger. Just hope you are not the one upon whom the malice is directed. There’s an air of hidden intent in the demeanor of Pooja Chopra (Elisha Kriis) as she gets ready to go out, a sleek black dress, perfectly applied lipstick, and a self-aware smile to herself indicators of a purposeful rendezvous.

Thanks to her friend Sarah, Pooja finally gets to meet Jack Gerrard (Isaac Anderson), who works as an assistant to local, hyper-wealthy real estate tycoon Jeffrey Delap. While the standard awkwardness of first meetings ensues, Jack is unexpectedly called away, with Pooja promising she will remain in touch. As time passes, however, Pooja’s focus on Jack has become much more intense, as a visit to a Witch Doctor (Raksha Colaco) suddenly begins to paint a devilishly conceived portrait of the designs she has for him. With the reasoning revealed, the cold, calculated execution of Pooja’s plan unfolds.

Next, my Mind:

With the virtue of clear, straightforward presentation paired with intelligent writing and the very apropos utilization of silent film era visual style and effective music scoring to accompany it, writer/director/co-producer/cinematographer/editor Andrew de Burgh’s 8-minute short delivers a wonderfully orchestrated ode to the olden days while likewise keeping it contemporary with a narrative that certainly emphasizes the popular phrase “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. Quickly but elegantly, the viewer is immersed into a building tale of deliberate, premeditated retaliation for actions we only come to know about during the film’s second act, emerging then via a flurry of pinpoint vehemence both seen and unseen, culminating with a perfectly enigmatic finale that honestly leaves the door open to further exploration/possibilities. As this reviewer has mentioned so many times prior about indie cinema, it bears stating yet again that, ultimately, it’s the sheer creativity in techniques chosen and uncomplicated nature of its overall packaging that makes these films soar. As such, in only eight, well-paced minutes displayed here, you are provided a full, engaging story that leaves you desiring more.

The exquisitely beautiful Kriis is more than an appropriate choice to play the film’s femme fatale Pooja Chopra, a woman on a set path of retribution, but willing to allow the scheme she has in mind to play out over time despite what is surely a desire to mete out her own justice right from the moment of connecting with Jack and learning more about his boss’s unscrupulous practices. What works even more effectively here is that despite our initial notions about Pooja, she’s such an unassuming character, and it therefore makes her transformation into a truly relentless, revenge-driven black widow that much more eerie, knowing she’s actually been manipulating and arranging things for longer than we might have realized. The portrayal of this mentality and cunning, ruthless temperament is amazingly enacted by Kriis, more credit to the fact it’s all presented without any audible dialogue, hence the need for acute body language, facial expressions, and additional emotive acting to carry the role and make us believe, which Kriis does excellently.

The supporting turn is solid from Anderson as Jack, a partially “innocent” victim here via being employed by a less than reputable boss whose deeds are not always within Jack’s purview or realm of legitimate support.  Yet, he’s still an knowing accomplice, even if by mostly by default, and Anderson plays him as such, still giving the character a mildly haughty demeanor which doesn’t serve him well against Pooja’s intentions. Colaco likewise performs well as the Witch Doctor with whom Pooja conspires to exact her plan, a confidant privy to the details of exactly why the acts of payback are going to occur and subsequently becoming the source of the means by which it will be carried out. In total, with the also evident play on words and multiple meanings its title infers, “The Twisted Doll” surely warrants praise and recognition, and definitely should be considered a cautionary tale for all those out there who actually think it’s ever a good idea to be involved with anything nefarious, much less that puts you on the unforgiving radar of a Pooja Chopra!

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


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