VIMEO Awards 2012: Hooked

Here we are for another review on the contestants for the narrative short film category at the VIMEO Awards 2012.

You can find more information about this year’s VIMEO Awards clicking here. For the list of short films taking part in the narrative lineup, click here.

We’re on our seventh review and tonight’s film is Hooked, by Stuart Howe.

Man wakes up, possibly high, by the presence of a woman, whom, astonished, slaps him in the face and declares they’re over. The man stares his dishes, as he wets the sponge under the flow and washes a cup. Memories from the woman at the beach across his mind. She swims. Back to the kitchen. He sits in a corner, paranoic with these flashes. Trembling. Mumbling.

— 2-minute mark. We had a good first scene, introducing us directly into a conflict. The aftermath so far seems bad: depressed guy doing housework and remembering the clichéd beach scenes. And he has a panic attack, over the top, perhaps?

Distracted, he plays with a tube, crayon or something like that, due to the noise. The woman arrives home with several bags, he moves towards her, stoned, steps on a tiny bag with something white in it. Seems like we have a cocaine addict. They dine some great meal and she happily chats with him. Shows concern and passion. We go back to when they first got into the house, was a surprise gift.

Another setup. He wakes up and she’s asleep next to him. He quickly stands up. She opens her eyes, aware of his departure. In the bathroom, he washes his face, gets his bag of coke and snorts some of it from his hand. The memories come back. She says that loves him in that happy beach. But she catches him in the bathroom and packs her bags. She’s gone.

Back to the meal, she worries about him, he says it is just a headache. She mocks him. They drink a toast. She prepares him a wrap, gives in his mouth. She  talks about the ocean, the beach, as being the best thing of going there. The memories return, stronger. Jaeseung freezes, in a silent despair. She holds him. Kisses him in comfort. He thanks her for coming back.

The answering machine takes a call for Jaeseung while he lays down desolated on his mattress, surrounded by garbage. Bachelor-style. Kok heard about the tragedy and consolates the friend. Promises to send him something good, that deals with sadness better than any medicine. Jaeseung gets his cocaine, snorts a trail as huge as those from Scorsese’s movies. Lays back at bed and the woman is standing beside him. He laughs hysterically and falls asleep. A wave hits the screen.

— This is somewhat interesting. First that this thing is fullfilled on cliches. Depressed guy. Beach happy remembrances. Hallucinations. You can’t get more cheap than this combo, probably.

— Second that we, as spectators, feel lost, because we can’t understand a damn thing until the ending. At least not the statement that this film seems to want to utter. Until the last two minutes all we have is a guy, whom lost his girlfriend and  drowns himself on cocaine. And if i cared more about butts being kicked i’d listen to Adele’s album.

— There are some annoying facts about this story. He was addicted on cocaine while she was with him, which is the reason why she left him. This shuts down the cocaine as a new mechanism to replace her, it was already there, maybe exercising a different function. In 10-minutes, you should make it as dramatic as possible.

— This is a good example on how not to use several time layers to tell your story. You should enlighten, not bewilder. Doing the latter and hitting the spectator with a twist only possible due to structure is cheap. The “surprise gift” scene tells us nothing interesting for the story and still includes another time layer to the narrative. You’re doing a short film, you can’t afford being gratuitous.

— Perhaps you may defend that the narrative makes the viewer lost on purpose, to place him under the skin of our main character. It’s a good call, i just don’t bite it. As i’ve said before, it should still have a better development overall. Structure films with a reliant twist are no more than fancy punch-lines.

RATING: 5/10

Review’s schedule:

19/05: The Ghosts, by Eddie O’Keefe; (read)
20/05: Prologue, by Bradley W. Ragland; (read)
21/05: Webcam, by Zbros Productions; (read)
22/05: A Bitch, by Matthew Miller; (read)
23/05: Left Right, by Tom Willems; (read)
24/05: The Hive, by Blind Aura Pictures; (read)
25/05: Hooked, by Stuart Howe;
26/05: Pothound, by Christopher Guiness;
27/05: The Division of Gravity, by Rob Chiu;
28/05: Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson;
29/05: Human Beings, by Jonathan Entwistle;
30/05: Ham Sandwich, by Dave Green.

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