Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Writer/Director, Andrew Ionides for allowing me access to an online screener of his 8 minute Horror/Thriller short, “The Quiet Zone”. The Quiet Zone is a self-contained short about Ella (played by Jessica Bayly), a late night commuter who encounters a disruptive passenger on her train carriage. After initially fleeing the ever-growing exasperation, Ella finds herself fighting for her life while trapped in the station with someone or something. The film also stars Kasey Iliana Sfetsios.
Films set on-board trains have long made for interesting viewing, at least the ones I’ve seen. There’s been classic stories like Agatha Christie’s, “Murder On The Orient Express” and Hitchcock’s, “Strangers On A Train”, all the way through to indie entries like, “Night Train” and “The Midnight Meat Train”. The Quiet Zone is a snappy and isolated tale, far removed from the usual murder mystery stories but equally as enjoyable. The audio track is surprisingly clean considering the location and its probability for unpredictable reverb. Richard Keyworth’s score works a treat, as he uses subtly an eerie sounds to create a sense of unease. In the beginning, he works plenty of bass into the mix to correlate with Ella’s growing annoyance with the passengers relentless noise. The lighting is decent but it’s the faintly back-lit scene mid way through that really stands out, in which Ella stands in the belly of the station in the shadows trying to decipher whose following her. The attention to detail in Bayly’s makeup, and in turn, Ella’s was something that really stood out. We’re introduced to her while she’s in a scramble marking what appears to be work documents and such. She looks over worked and run down, heavy under the eyes and you certainly wouldn’t have a hard time believing that she might have a skewed perception of things, I liked that touch. There’s a nice looking prosthetic piece and some blood and gore on display too.
There’s a couple of focus lapses in the early part of the film and I personally wasn’t a huge fan of the handheld guerilla style approach to the cinematography (but each to his own). Jarring movements if they’re not representing something that supposed to jar you, come off as amateurish. In the case of The Quiet Zone, several shots look good and others are a little so-so. The film’s premise is rather odd, particularly the idea of having a “quiet zone” on a train. I’m not sure if that’s a real thing or not? I find it hard to believe that it would be, given that you couldn’t possibly monitor that. I liked the plot development revealed half way in but I’m not sure how Kasey played two different characters, maybe I missed something. That aspect may have been part of Ella’s deceptive mind and I just didn’t see it like that.
“The Quiet Zone” is Andrew Ionides fourth short film but my first venture into his work and I was surprised with the end result. I’m partial to the train station locale and Andrew impressed with his ability to pull something like this off on minimal funds. The audio is clean, the score builds tension, and the lighting is moody, especially in the second half. The acting was good and the viewer has a clear read on Ella’s state of mind on this most unfortunate of nights. Some of the specifics weren’t completely clear and I’d have preferred to see a more cinematic approach to the cinematography. The Quiet Zone is an entertaining and effective little chiller that you should definitely board when it hits the station!
My rating for “The Quiet Zone” is 7.5/10