There are a lot of short films which are produced and I just don’t find them appealing. They tend to have this ‘dark’ and pretentious vibe to them which makes them come off as boring and unusual for the sake of it. That has put me off watching a lot of short films. However ‘Town Red’ proves to be the complete opposite of that. After viewing this, I was extremely surprised with how much information was put on screen in 22 minutes and it not coming across as too jam packed or too convoluted.
Here is the run down. Get in your time machine and let’s go back 1952. There are scenes of carnage and a dark tranquillity which surrounds Sugar Grove, Kentucky. The cause? A mysterious virus which has swept the town; and by the looks of it causing zombie/cannibalistic behaviour. Patrick is our protagonist who has lost everyone he loves to the virus besides his long-time friend and worker Jeffrey. They combine forces and decide to kill the virus ridden monster in Patrick’s garage. But while there is a monster to be killed, we meet a local farmer and all round ignorant pain in the ass Neil. Neil visits Patrick, because he wants something and he will cause as much trouble as he can to get it.
‘Town Red’ conveys so many different elements from several genres. There is the practical FX which were not too over the top but done well enough to have a very realistic look to them. The practical FX do look like they have come from a horror film, which does bring a gloomy cloud over the plot and the visuals which adds a lot of darkness to it. I really enjoyed the musical score, because while sometimes it was calm which did reflect the happy times that Patrick looks back on, there are also moments of suspense that could be compared to the music that would be surrounded by your heartbeat. But what I really enjoyed was the dramatic sub plot. Sure this short film does convey a horror and a thriller aspect to the film, but the depth was very well done for a 22 minute film. There are flashbacks which add a dramatic turn to the film which makes Patrick crave what he once had, but also the more we learn about Neil and his family past, the more the film intensifies. Having so much going on in such a short time frame would usually come across as messy, but the pacing is executed perfectly. It’s not too fast or too slow, so by the time the end of the film came around I was just wanted to know what will happen next.
For such a short film there is a lot of character development, I just wish I could have seen more. But I understand with time restraints you have to work with what you have. The dialogue between the characters in the film was short, simple and cryptic which kept me wondering what was going to unfold. It didn’t just reveal everything at once because as a viewer you wouldn't have been able to go on a journey with the characters. The acting was subtle, it wasn't over dramatic because I think if it was you would have just thought of Patrick and Neil as red-neck as Tucker and Dale. Patrick (Ryan Geiger) is a religious and wise young man, who really valued family and his friendship with Jeffrey. His pain is conveyed very naturally through his eyes and his body language. He doesn't need to go on a huge rants on how he misses his family his whole persona says it all. Neil (Michael Jefferson) is just an ignorant self-loather, and made me disgusted in his behaviour, and his character was meant to make you feel that way. And we have Jeffrey (Micaiah Castro), who is a loyal, worker and friend to Patrick, and he respect their work relationship as well as their friendship. He is very softly spoken and a true gentleman, so it’s no wonder that he and Patrick are friends.
Ryan Geiger did an excellent job in bringing this story to the screen. The writing of the screenplay must have been very well written to be executed the way it was on the screen. I think this short film has tremendous potential in terms of the technical aspects and everyone who played their part, played it well. The camera work was extremely well done and it definitely wasn't done by an amateur. I loved being able to see the objects the camera was focused on as well as seeing the beautiful scenery surrounding them; it was haunting at times. The sound and audio was very crisp, I could hear the dialogue and musical score perfectly, which was a big bonus in my book. There is nothing worse than watching short films and trying to hear music or dialogue but can’t because of wind rustling through the trees. The musical score added intensity and emotion, and I could feel when ‘a moment’ in the film was coming. Some may say having music to go along with ‘a moment’ on screen is predictable and should be just silent but I think having the music worked. The editing wasn't choppy, it was very smooth and cut to perfection. The editor obviously made sure to put the right shots together which conveyed the emotion that was right for each scene.
‘Town Red’ is one of the best short films that I have seen and left me walking away with a lot of information and made me want to watch more. I would love to see this made into a feature film, because I think it would be interesting to see what direction Ryan Geiger takes it. I do believe if this what made into a feature film and was marketed extremely well, I think it could be very successful. ‘Town Red’ accomplished a lot in 22 minutes, and conveyed emotion and depth that some 90 minute films can’t even produce. It is exciting to see that calibre of talent that is out there, they just need to be recognised for the hard work, creativity and dedication that they have put in. Everybody that worked on this film either in front of the camera or behind the scenes, all played an integral part and it really did work for them. It is awesome to know what kind of other projects that could be produced with a team like that. Ryan Geiger and the team from ‘Town Red’ you should be happy with the end result, because you guys nailed it.