VIMEO has become one of the main platforms to publicize your short films and annually they host an event to award the finest works. Among all the available categories, we’re going for NARRATIVE, since that’s what we care about. I’ll review one of the 12 short films nominated for the award each day.
Our first review is on The Ghosts, by Eddie O’Keefe:
The first impression is no-good, that black-and-white, fx-aged image, voice-over and cute music. Then you give our voice a face, introducing our smart outsider girl in an average town. And the jerk she has been with. Then some merry-go-round shots. Boring. However, then we’re taken to the junkyard, from where the ghosts rise from the trash, just like zombies. They form a gang, The Ghosts, a group of Fonz alike teens, stuck in the rockabilly 50’s. This concept is actually quite great, it’s a clear reference to zombies, without zombies as we know them, still, some guys came back from the dead. Didn’t take long until our girl turned her eyes into one of them, Frank. The Ghosts join the school and their presence change the life of that quiet suburb. The girls began falling for them and so the boys began to copy. New gangs emerged and between them, The Protectors, by the jerk whom had the girl before. Overall, the society doesn’t praise the attendence of the ghosts. But our narrator sticks to their side.
— Overall, the 3 first minutes were an introduction of the WORLD, but The Ghosts manages to avoid a world-driven narrative by using the voice-over. Giving us a point of view for the events and an opinion to guide us, is enough for us, spectators, to narrow the changes of the world by a single prism. This is quite important if you must introduce a utterly divergent location. Yet, that’s useless if you don’t present your world through conflict, as The Ghosts do by exploring the girl’s parents disapproval of her contact with any of the gang members.
Ignoring her dad’s advice, the girls and Frank take a ride together. Stargazing. They kiss. And their relationship starts, but Chad, the jerk, has heard of it and got jealous, specially when he saw that the undead is doing better than he. Chad and his gang slash Frank’s tires and beat up one of the Ghosts. But nothing could stop the girl from being with Frank, until the 6-min mark, where Chad waits for the girl behind her job and threats her, calls her a slut and tries to kiss her. Then he slaps her. Meanwhile, in a parents’ reunion, pictures of the girl and Frank together are projected by the slideshow, revealing her relationship to her father.
— Besides some reservations into the stargazing scene, which should be shorter and without all that schmaltz, the development of Chad culminating into the attack in alley plus the unearthing of the girl’s disrespect to her parents turned the story upside-down. And that’s really hard to achieve. What is Frank going to do now that his girl was beaten? What will the girl do without the support of her parents? These are the kind of questions that keep us attached to a story. What’s gonna happen?
The Ghosts’ retaliation comes sixteen minutes later, breaking into a family dinner and interrogating one of the Protectors’ kids about Chad’s whereabouts. The Ghosts meet the remaining The Protectors in a drive-in. Chad has a gun and dances triumphant in front of the rival gang. He shoots Frank merciless. Three times. The ghost touches the blood on his white t-shirt and goes towards Chad, beating the shit out of him with the revolver’s grip. The girl calls his attention and Frank turns the aim at her. He drops the gun and the entire suburb inquisition is looking after them. Unwilling to lose her loved one, The Girl points the gun to her father, allowing the Ghosts to get away. The Girl looses the weapon and embraces her father, meanwhile the ghosts return to the junkyard.
— The climax is beautifully made, although Frank’s wrath doesn’t match his nice guy character much, other than Chad’s hidden gun, which totally fits his aptitude for dirty tricks. Regardless of too much beating, Frank would’ve be caught and framed and the outcome would be the same. The ending is great, still works, but perhaps should be more restrained. Altogether, this is a great short film and a good parameter for the movies yet to come.