Romance and desire take macabre turns in the two short films that will feature in our Indie Spotlight this evening, a pair of short tales from director Joops Fragale.
First up, let's talk about Simone, the first (chronologically, that is) of the two films Mr. Fragale submitted for our approval. The approximately 17 minute tale follows a young woman - named Simone, obviously - who wakes up in a strange bed with little memory of the previous night and nothing but a glass of vodka to greet her. Much of what follows is her quest to piece together the events that led to her current predicament, which slowly reveal a romantic encounter with another young woman...and something more.
Jennifer Ward stars as the title character, and does a good job of appearing completely perplexed through most of the film. A majority of the film follows her as she reacts to her surroundings with no one else around, but the actress never goes over the top or presents herself poorly. The rest of the film has her interacting with a young woman played by Erin Nicole Cline - an incredibly cute and pretty darn talented young woman who we'll talk about a little more in a couple of paragraphs.
Simone's twist is what really makes or breaks the film, and I'm still slightly on the fence about it. I kind of expected the film was going in one of two directions as it first hinted that something wasn't quite right, and the one that made more sense definitely won out. But I feel like my concerns about the twist have more to do with the execution than the idea, and I'm willing to bet that the limitations of the budget made it near impossible to do more with the final few reveals than Fragale and crew accomplished.
On the other hand, Simone is a well crafted little story that bounces between last night and this morning quite well, and the actresses do what they can - including an incredibly revealing scene between the sheets - to keep the viewers eyes on the screen. The whole package looks great and is edited with an extremely professional flair, and the end result left me wanting to see more from Fragale and crew.
Which leads us to Date Night, a 15 minute short in which Ms. Cline returns as a young woman who just wants to stay home and read a magazine despite her friends' insistence.
This young woman - listed only as She in the film's credits - has her evening turned upside down rather quickly when she finds a young man sitting on her couch. He - that's what they call David Fuit's character in the credits too - is a little awkward and might only speak in movie quotes at times, but it appears he's also quite charming. Things move pretty quickly after they meet - for better and for worse.
This one night, two character tale might not make complete sense at first - there's a fundamental question to the situation that one would think She would ask immediately and repeatedly until she figured out just how this dude showed up on her couch - but once you're along for the characters' ride it's easy not to look back at the mechanisms of the plot. Like Simone, there's a sexual interlude in this film too, and once again this seems to be the point where halfway-kinda-normal gets turned on its head.
There's a lot of dark comedy at work in Date Night, which culminates in a final scene that actually had me laughing at how sly the film was. The twist isn't unpredictable, but the director again handles everything with incredible skill - the editing stands out once more - and the stars do a fantastic job. Fuit is uncomfortable in the best way as the appearing man, while Cline pours out the innocent charm with ease. The end result is a short horror tale that's really fun to watch.
Now that I've talked a bunch about these two fun little films from a talented young director, it would probably be a good time for me to point out that you can get more info on both films over at the website for the production company, 386Films. Heck, you could even watch Simone or watch Date Night over at that site if you wanted to. And I think you should want to.