Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Co-Writer/Director, Chris Keller for sending me the link to his fifth short film, a 9-minute Horror tale called “Father”. Father introduces us to a young boy named Danny (played by Rodion Kilinc), whose quietly drawing in his bedroom late at night. Shortly after his mother (Rayanna Dibs) and her soon-to-be latest one-night stand (Sam South) arrive home, things take a dark turn. Danny is locked in his bedroom and eventually forced to face the very real demon that plagues his nightmares. The film also stars James Killeen as “Father”.
Chris Keller has forged a seven or eight-year-long career thus far, working in compositing visual effects on projects like “Man Of Steel”, “Thor: The Dark World” and “The Hunger Games” (just to name a few). Throughout that period he began venturing into short film, doing so with quite some success. DP, Thomas Shawcroft shot Father’s cinematography in glorious 5K, and the image really pops (as is to be expected). All of the framing is nicely conceived and the gentle camera movements make for pleasant viewing. The scenes in Danny’s bedroom are atmospherically lit and provide plenty of suspense to proceedings. The audio track’s clear, there is some big sound design, and the use of keys in the score results in an eerie little theme that feels like something out of a dark fairytale. The demon design and the practical makeup effects are where Father truly shines through though. A decaying corpselike exterior isn’t necessarily anything new (just look to The Walking Dead, among other things) but this trio of makeup artists bring it to life really well (well.. not life but ya know what I mean). Combine its look and sound with Killeen’s sudden jerky movements and restrained advances at Danny and you’ve got a memorable evil.
My only real complaint in Father is that young Rodion, being a little raw/green (in just his second short), lacks consistency with the level of fear he portrays. It’s a tough balancing act because you don’t want a child actor to be over the top or forced, but on the opposite side of the coin, you don’t want to underplay it either. Unfortunately, his performance doesn’t quite progress at the same rate as the level of threat does. That said, it’s by no means enough to take away from the overall entertainment and enjoyment of Father. Also, I’m not sure how I feel about the ending either.
Father is my official introduction to Keller as a Writer/Director and the end result is a rather impressive one. Coming from a visual effects background, it’s clear Chris approaches his work with a high level of attention to detail. The 5K image looks superb, the audio and sound design are both sharp, and the score, while subtle, is rather fitting. The presence of the demon is alarming, and the practical effects, coupled with James’s acting, are the reason this one is as good as it is. If I’m being critical, I do think young Rodion’s intensity wavers somewhat toward the back end of the film, but I have no doubt he’ll further improve with more time and experience. Father is now currently available for viewing on YouTube and you should definitely check it out at the link below, Enjoy!
My rating for “Father” is 8/10