Short Film Review “What Jack Built”

What Jack Built2 What Jack Built1


First, the Recap:

What IS going on in the basement? Isn’t that a question so often asked in many a creepy horror film? Is that not the locale for so many a ghostly encounter, the discovering of buried bodies, or the not-so-smart hiding place of too many an ignorant teen? Yeah, basements.  Always filled with cobwebs and creaking beams, the sudden rumble of the furnace, and the damp coldness at times like death.  But that’s in those films. Upon this story’s first glance, the cellar is the current “home” of an obviously obsessed, single-minded man, Jack (Timothy J. Cox).  And the question posed here as he stews over random components, miscellaneous junk, and other odds and ends–what exactly IS Jack building?

The curious joy he seems to get from his fussing about in the complete clutter and dingy domain, re-visiting blueprints, drilling holes in planks, and all while enjoying a smoke, is evident.  One focus, one plan, one goal. Laying out piece after piece, always vying for the perfect fit to his mystery contraption, Jack keeps his mania alive and kicking until ultimately leaving the confines of the basement and heading into the woods, dragging along larger pieces, to what we do not ascertain. Then, nervously pausing to look around the forest, the final result of his efforts is revealed–tried, tested–and ready for its designed mission. Heading back to the shelter of the cellar, his creation works its magic. Going to view said results, however, has unintended consequences.

Next, my Mind:

Directed by 17-year old Matthew Mahler, who also co-wrote the story with his father, writer/producer/actor Ross Mahler, “What Jack Built” stands once again (and I know I say that a lot, but hey, truth is truth) as another example of the beauty in short film simplicity.  Every aspect, from the unembellished cinematography, to the effectively one-setting (ok, two) storyline, to the slightly (perhaps unnecessarily) exaggerated music score, comes together into what equals an 11-minute flight of pleasantly silly fancy that does have a wonderfully sublime finale which leaves the viewer chuckling quite a bit at the price paid for pursuing things that should perhaps be left alone–even if one’s inescapable curiosity gets the best of the film’s lead character.

Having had (soon, anyway) the privilege of interviewing Timothy J. Cox, as well as seeing and reviewing multiple films he’s been a part of, this reviewer must say that he once more provides the perfect, emotive, straight-forward performance “What Jack Built” requires, and does so in his usual entertaining way. Just the range of facial expressions and twitchy, calculated movements he provides for Jack truly does make one wonder what really IS going on in that compulsive brain of his, all while also displaying his seemingly restless and paranoid state of being as well. And this has to be the case, since everything IN this effort is centered solely ON him and him alone, at least to a certain point, anyway.

All in all, a great little film that overcomes any shortcomings it might be seen as having and delivers a nicely packaged indie effort that is sure to please.

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




Leave a Reply