Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Irish actor, Martin O’Sullivan (Catcalls) and Motum Films for hooking me up with a screener of the 18 minute Drama/Thriller short “Chimes”, Written and Directed by first time filmmaker, Jannine Benkhardt. Chimes opens to a young downtrodden boy (Finian Duff Lennon) sitting in a basement. Head low, knees crossed and looking fearful of his mother (played by Michelle Audrey). Years of abuse later, a now adult, Paul (O’Sullivan) has become a killer. His latest target being fellow church-goer, Mary (Cristina Ryan). How much of who and what we are is ultimately decided by circumstance? And in the face of all of it is there a way to find salvation? The film also stars Degnan Geraghty, Thomas Leggett and Angel Hannigan.
Chimes has really nice production value for an independent film. Conor Fleming’s framing is consistent and most of the camera work is simple but effective. The audio track is clear and there’s some clever uses of music that work in tandem to complement the on-screen violence. Paul is clearly an emotionally scarred man, that much is evident from the moment he awakens from his bed, current day. Chimes appear to be both a trigger and a familiar haven for Paul as he tries to balance a tortured mindset. The consensus among most psychologists is that trauma is often at the root of all deep-seated emotional and physical problems. For the most part no one is born evil, a notion that’s displayed in this thriller short. The acting is serviceable, with O’Sullivan as the lead, and Geraghty as a Priest, both sharing equal screen time and each turning in solid performances. Cristina Ryan is good with limited material too.
Unfortunately, Chimes as a narrative isn’t quite gripping enough to warrant an 18 minute run time. The film tries to go between time periods, with Paul as a child and showing his connection to the Priest, and then back to him as an adult. There’s no obvious specifics to highlight the early era, nor do those scenes feel like a conventional flashback. The initial interaction between Paul and Mary lacks some clarity as well. I thought perhaps the two already knew each other, after all, they’re looking at each other like they do and they’re attending the same church. It quickly became clear when they started conversing that it was a first time introduction though. When it came to the cat and mouse game, Mary had very little fight in her. In fact, minus a few flat whimpers when she’s captured, she doesn’t once yell or scream for help and that was disappointing.
Chimes is a serviceable debut Thriller short from a young Irish film maker. There’s some good cinematography on display, clean sound and a few nice performances. The subject matter is interesting but difficult to analyse thoroughly in a short medium. I think those uncertain dynamics of Paul and Mary hurt the film and the lack of compelling substance makes it appear lengthier than it actually is. The two timelines don’t have resounding separation and Mary makes for a lightweight protagonist. All in all I still think the film is creative and worth a watch, and it’s great to see more women getting involved in the industry. Keep an eye out for Chimes soon and you can check out the teaser trailer below!
My rating for “Chimes” is 5.5/10