Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Co-Writer and Director, Daniel Robinette for allowing me early access to an online screener of his 12 minute, Horror/Drama short “Tethered”. Solomon (played by Jared Cook) is a young boy living a life in isolation after being abandoned by his mother. All he has guiding him is a daily routine centered around three specific rules, the most important of which is to never detach from the rope he’s tethered to. What happens when curiosity causes him to wander further than ever before? The film also stars Kayla Stuhr, with voice acting from Grace Mumm. Tethered is Daniel’s fourth short film but this is my first review of his work.
Daniel and Co have written an interesting and engaging script that fittingly suits the short film medium. The rules of the world are divulged immediately, via a pre-recorded audio taping that Solomon listens to on a daily basis. I liked that aspect and that it was introduced right off the bat to help you understand the boys environment. Tethered taps into that element of curiosity we all have about the unknown (how we fear death for example). Not only does Robinette instill that in his protagonist, he takes the audience along for the ride and in turn makes the viewer curious about the direction the film is headed. This was shot in a glorious and beautiful heavily wooded area in North Carolina, which is one of my favourite parts about it. DP, Aaron Sorgius has worked on each of Daniel’s shorts and I can see why, the guy has a wonderful eye (two even). There’s really sharp close-ups, along with cinematic wide shots and fantastic aerial ones to boot. The high production value is clear from the outset, and only made clearer with a stunning jib-shot (crane) over a picturesque lake in the forest. Jeremy Tassone’s edit works superbly given the amount of quick cuts that were used, a technique I don’t normally love. The bass driven score is yet another facet that impresses. There’s also some really nice deep cello as the short heads towards its climax. Cook is the only person on the screen for a majority of the quick run time and he does well.
I went back and forth on whether Solomon was supposed to be visually impaired or not. I think he was but on a couple of occasions he appeared more aware than one would expect, especially once he really ventures out into the woods, that part was a little unclear at times. If I’m honest, I didn’t love the resolution. My preference would’ve been for the story to go another way, something a little more impactful.
Tethered made for a great introduction to Daniel’s work. It was quite reminiscent of M. Night Shyamalan’s underrated masterpiece, “The Village”. The script deals with emotions like loneliness, curiosity and fear and presents them in such a way that is completely relatable for an audience. The cinematography is perhaps the best I’ve seen thus far in 2017, the editing was sharp and Matt Vucic’s score really helped build an eerie atmosphere for the full duration. I wasn’t quite sold on a couple of the specifics and I would’ve liked to have seen it go in a different direction come the climax, but I’m not quite sure what that would be. In the end, Tethered is simply a must see and I rate it right up there with the best shorts of the year along with Alex Gibson’s, “Match” *see review* https://adamthemoviegod.com/match-review-2/.
My rating for “Tethered” is 8.5/10