Haskell (2017) [HollyShorts 2017]

Three moments from the life of a man who can manipulate time and how his ability is affecting him.

Written and directed by James Allen Smith, Haskell is a small part, or three small parts, of what feels like a much bigger story.  The story deals with time and how it affects people, especially the man who can manipulate it and those around him.  The story is one that is multi-layered and deals with plenty to become a full length feature easily.  The way it’s written does make it feel like it’s a part of something much bigger and perhaps a proof of concept for a feature film.  However, it does still work as a short where not everything is explained and the film works with some mysteries not explained.

The cast for this short gives good, nuanced performances, with Mark Kelly playing the lead of Haskell Carlston as an adult and Lucas Oktay as his younger version, both of them creating a character that is interesting to watch evolve on screen.  The rest of the cast is also good, with most of them giving strong performances that work with each other and with the lead.

The film has a look and feel all of its own, with an almost grey feeling washing over everything even clearer days.  The cinematography by Chris Mosson creates a world all of its own for the film while also feeling familiar and adding a certain gloom feeling the whole thing.  He frames images that are beautiful and sad almost, creating a feeling and an atmosphere for the film and characters to evolve in.  This feeling and atmosphere influence how the viewer feels about the whole thing without dictating it clearly.

Haskell is a film that feels much bigger in scale than the short format it is.  It’s a good watch with intelligent themes and a way to go about its story that gives it a good way to say what it has to say.  It’s about much more than just the time manipulation but it’s also about life, time’s effect on life and on people as part of a layered story.  The characters are relatable and feel human and not like just characters put on the screen to serve a purpose.  This short is strong and feels a bit like a proof of concept for a feature while still being a good short on its own.