Film Pulse Score

Director: Richard Powell
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 6.5/10

Every couple of months we’ll receive an e-mail from a budding young filmmaker who wants us to check out and review their latest masterpiece, and more often than not, the film will consist of a bunch of dudes playing dress up in a park, or someone’s back yard, or some woods behind the director’s mom’s house.  While we always encourage people to chase their dreams, it’s just not feasible to submit a home movie to us to get reviewed.  That being said, I was pleasantly surprised when I sat down to watch our latest arrival, Familiar, and found it to not only be an actual film, but a pretty good one at that.

Familiar is a short film written and directed by Richard Powell, which follows the miserable life of John Dodd, a man who is so fed up with his existence, that his inner demons manifest themselves in a quite literal way.

Most of this short consists of voice over from the main character of John, played by Robert Nolan, which would be grating had this been a feature length film, but since we only have to endure his hushed voice for twenty minutes, it’s tolerable.  I’m not sure if it was intentional, and it probably wasn’t, but I found John Dodd bore an uncanny resemblance to Edgar Allan Poe, both physical looks, and tormented mind.

It’s in this torment that the film focuses its efforts. Dodd’s thoughts grow increasingly erratic with each passing minute, and by the end of the film we’re left with the question of what exactly happened to him.  Was it some sort infection that grew inside him and influenced his personality, or was his mind so full of evil thoughts that they manifested themselves into a physical form and took over?  These are questions that a filmmaker like Cronenberg would ask his viewers, and this film has some clear influences from him.

This short is not without its faults however, mostly stemming from the facial pubes of the main character. His muffled tones were nearly inaudible at times, and his facial expressions during moments of rage were silly and couldn’t be taken seriously.  He also looked to be at least a decade younger than his wife, who had the personality of a manila envelope.  This wasn’t a problem however, since the stagnant relationship with his wife was a major plot point.

In the end, this proves to be an enjoyable little short, that would probably fit nicely in an anthology film, or a Tales From the Crypt episode, and I’ll be keeping my ear to the ground to find out what’s next for writer/director Richard Powell. He certainly has potential, and I would be interested in seeing more from him.  If you have the opportunity, I would definitely check out some of his stuff, and hopefully we’ll be seeing a feature coming sometime, but hopefully not two hours of the guy from this flick arguing with himself in voice over.  That would be enough to cause a hideous creature to grow inside me too, and I don’t want to deal with that.