“The World is asleep“. And Zach Green and Fatal Pictures hope to shake you out of your slumber with their latest short film, written and directed by Richard Powell, titled Familiar. You should remember Green and Powell’s previous efforts with their other slow-burn short film Worm. (Interview here, Review here). Familiar has already garnered critical praise from Dread Central, Fangoria, Ain’t It Cool News, and of course a bearded nod of appreciation from Wes Allen, the J.J. Jameson to my Peter Parker here at the Blood Sprayer. I was asked by producer Zach Green to give my thoughts on their efforts and I was happy to oblige.
John, played by the talented Robert Nolan from Worm, is stuck in a loveless marriage. Yearning to escape, he counts the days until his oldest child is off to college and he can vanish to start living the life he always wanted. Unfortunately his wife surprises him with news of another child soon on the way and it’s up to John to think of a way out before the noose of his wasted life cinches around his neck forever. The actions he takes though are well deserving of a trip to the gallows.
Much of the dialogue is internalized offering a cruel and cold look at the world around John. His heart is filled with nothing but malice as he dissects the actions and intentions of those around him like a disgusted surgeon pilfering through shit filled intestines. Gone is the slick, snarky dialogue that riddled Worm. Instead many things are left unsaid in Familiar, but what is communicated is that we are not all God’s children and for damn good reason. Imagine being partnered with Kevin from THE WONDER YEARS, all grown up into the disappointment we knew he would be dealing with a life much of us are striving to have and keep. That is to say, imagine behind all those cute, yet awkward silences between that special someone you’ve invested the better part of your youth are actually the very moments that fuel the fire of your lover’s never-ending hatred for you and all you’ve built together. That warm feeling nostalgia should have given you should now be replaced by the shiver of self-loathing.
The set design and cinematography rival that of anything you’d see on network television. There are no wasted shots as the editing keeps the film moving at a steady pace, matching the movements of each manipulation invoked from the story. You’re not forced so much as compelled to move forward in your viewing of this film. You’re not so much watching it as you are witnessing it. It’s a tragic thing to see the psyche of your protagonist shatter and then have your remaining cast stabbed, poked, and prodded with those shards. What is a more interesting take is Powell’s exploration into body horror and the use of special effects to heighten the drama and escalate the tension. There’s a bit of evil inside all of us, but not quite like what you’ll see with John.
Familiar pushes the envelope in all the right directions for Horror fans. The slow burn style of storytelling sizzles along as you brace for impact, not knowing fully how dangerous of a scenario you are in. This short serves as the calling card Fatal Pictures has needed to attract investors into a full length feature film. I sincerely believe that audiences are craving such cerebral and visceral horror, something that will truly unease us and make us uncomfortable without the desensitization normally associated with contemporary cinema.
If you’re able, catch Familiar as an Official Selection at the 2012 Texas Frightmare Weekend. You can keep up to date with more developments concerning Familiar and Fatal Pictures from their website here. Keeps eyes peeled for future screenings at upcoming film festivals.