“A bullied schoolboy takes drastic measures against his tormenter, summoning an ancient being in the woods using a spellbound book passed down through the generations of his family.”
I came across this one on Facebook funny enough, and it has to be one of the strongest shorts I’ve seen in a really long time. Expertly shot, and featuring impressive creature design when it comes to the titular creature, this shows what can be done with 5 minutes of run time. While the film certainly opens itself up for a feature, or for more, it still manages to contain and communicate a full story in a short amount of time.
The Birch is written and directed by Ben Franklin and Anthony Meltin, with a story credit for Cliff Wallace. The trio present a fantastic story set in a very unique and interesting world, and allowing for the development of a genuinely frightening mythology. It feels deep and complete, and almost doesn’t need any more than it gives you. It’s well directed, and the cinematography is great; it’s clear that there is a pretty large budget behind the film, but it was put to extremely good use.
On top of a great creative team, you have a fabulous cast. Corrina Marlow plays the ailing grandmother, her role is small but effective; Charlie Venables plays Kris, and Aaron Ward plays his nemesis Shaun. You also have Dee Sherwood Wallace as The Birch, and her physical performance is great, but it’s the make up effects that really add impact to the character.
There are some very clear influences in the creature design, my brain immediately flashed to Guillermo Del Toro’s films, and while the design could be accused of copying him I think it has enough of it’s own flavour and does feel more like an influence or homage than direct copying. It almost seems to be a merging of Del Toro and Alex Pardee, which isn’t something you’ll ever hear me complain about. The gore effects are well executed too, and really add to the quality of the film.
There’s really not much else to say about this one except that you should check it out. You can actually give it a look below. A great short, and I look forward to watching what these filmmakers come out with next.
MY RATING: ****