Premise: After returning home from a night out, a young couple discover an intruder in their home. A dark tale that warns us about the choices we make.
Review: Watching the cleverly employed ghostlike atmosphere that Drew Lovett injected into his debut short film ‘Insomnia’ as his protagonist is literally haunted by her past, it seems very evident that Lovett was waiting for the right time to go full-Carpenter. ‘Snatchers’ satisfies that need in fine form, evoking the claustrophobic danger of ‘The Thing’ and ‘Assault On Precinct 13’ as it slowly evolves from a home invasion thriller into something entirely more sinister.
Screenwriter Jon Georgiou returns to the Northern Giant Productions fold with a script that wastes no time getting to the meat of this intense thriller, but does not jettison the foundation and backstory of the soon to be imperiled characters. In just a few short minutes of the film’s 10 minute runtime we get a solid snapshot into the lives of a couple whose future together is facing decline but are forced to rely on each other when they find themselves trapped within a situation that escalates from alarming to petrifying far faster than they can handle.
Another key ‘Insomnia’ alumnus is lead actor Erin Shanagher, who once again shows her ability to be the traumatised and terrified eyes of the audience. Playing Danielle, a supportive girlfriend whose patience with her seemingly shiftless partner Jack (Rupert Hill) is beginning to wear thin, Shanagher does a fine job of being our point of empathy. Her talent is very much on display as she is able to move almost seamlessly from her introduction as a girlfriend forced to be the responsible party in her relationship to being the foil of the audience’s apprehension as events start to take a dangerous turn. Rupert Hill expertly inhabits the skin of a man coasting by on his charm, who blithely goes about his life in denial of the need to get his act together. A nice character touch sees Jack showing disdain to his neighbour who seems better able to assess his relationship than he does. He brilliantly sells the role of a would-be hero who quickly finds himself out of his depth and, like Shanagher, expertly handles the moments of suffocating dread. As a character whose role in the events that begin to play out is deliberately subversive, Hill does a fine job adapting his performance to fit the twists that Georgiou’s script throws at the audience.
A special mention needs to be made of Rob Cairns’ cinematography, which fantastically shades and texturises the threat to Danielle and Jack almost from the beginning. Even during an early daylight scene, Cairns is able to expertly throw shadows across the hallways of the apartment building that will become a crucial setting only moments later, and punctuate the shadows with harsh columns of sunlight creating an ethereal tone that lets the audience know that something ominous is lying in wait. Subversion of expectations seems to be the objective with this film and Lovett is wise to keep his initial depiction of the intruder very similar to that of a drug addict or petty criminal. With very minor physical adjustments to the intruder, Lovett is able to significantly ramp up the threat factor and completely change the way that the audience sees this mysterious character.
This is a film that layers mystery into its plot and heavily suggests that there are secrets relating to the main characters, that makes this random home invasion not so random at all. With a second outing as director now under his belt, Drew Lovett seems to have made a firm statement of intent to create immersive and arresting films under the Northern Giant label. If ‘Insomnia’ was a jarring journey through psychological trauma, then ‘Snatchers’ represents an elevation to a level of filmmaking that can deliver something horrifyingly delicious.
Studio: Northern Giant Productions Year: 2015 Genre: Romance/Comedy Duration: 16 mins Suitability: Mature - Strong language and sexual references