Transmission (2017) [Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2017]

A man is kept captive; his captor both tortures him and spoils him. What does he want? Why is he doing this?

Written and directed by Tom Hancock and Varun Raman, this short has more questions than it gives answers, creating an odd mystery as it entertains with its proceedings. The two leads are used as nemesis in a way and the story unfolds as an odd game of captor/captive that seems to be going to a definite ending but turns out to be something else entirely. The film’s story keeps most of its action in one location and uses this location to its maximum potential. The small cast actually helps the story in creating a sort of intimate chaos.

The cast is what makes this story work as they have this back and forth, well mostly just from one of the actors, that creates the film’s tone and feel. In the lead part of Dr. Sam, James Hyland gives a performance that is just a touch outside the realm of batshit insane. He plays the part in a way that keeps a questioning of his intentions right on the surface. Playing against him is Michael Shon as the captive Leonard. His part is fairly silent but he manages to get most of what needs to be passed to the audience through his eyes and expressions. He pulls off a difficult task in a great way, making the viewer care for his well-being not just because he is basically tied-up and being torture, but also because he makes them feel for him. Rounding out the cast is Kelby Keenan as Joan getting just a little screen time but using it for maximum effect in terms of humanizing Leonard and making him a more rounded character as he shows care for her. The cast here works well together, each bringing their own touch to the story and adding something that changes the dynamic of the film.

The film’s cinematography by Thomas Shawcroft brings the film to the next level by making look fantastic. The film is shot in a way that brings the viewer in and doesn’t let them go. Also working well is the score including Radetzky March, Op. 228 by Johann Strauss Sr. which is used perfectly with the story and what goes on on the screen.

Transmission is a short film that doesn’t fully make sense yet it does. It’s one of those where things are odd and something is not quite clear about the intentions but it’s still entertaining and understandable. The film is really well shot and well acted.