The team at Fatal Pictures consisting of writer/director Richard Powell, producer Zach Green, and actor Robert Nolan came to us with a previous endeavor of theirs’ known as Worm. Worm got to me. I was genuinely intrigued by the up and down emotional trek it took me on. I would liken their previous film to that of a Fugazi song with its build up, drop off, build up, etc. Naturally, after being contacted by producer Zach Green about the next chapter in this team’s history, it stirred up curiosity wondering what they could’ve concocted this time around. Worm took the route of punishing the mind. My assumption was that Familiar would take a similar route. I was half right…
Familiar is the story of John Dodd, a middle-aged married man. He has a normal day job, a teenage daughter, and fair amount of animosity towards his own life. John’s psyche is on shaky ground. He’s clearly fighting some frightening compulsions…and he’s barely strong enough to hold them back. But what we initially think are John’s tragic demons bubbling to the surface of his mind, end up being a much more sinister (and LIVING) “thing”.
This Canadian filmmaking team has taken the short film and made it something of an art form. I’ve always considered this format a trying one. To convey each emotion possible in a fraction of the time is a feat. Fatal Pictures has not only upstaged their previous work, they’ve done it AGAIN in a very little amount of time! You see, Familiar is a very tricky movie. At first glance, I assumed I’d be getting a mental beating ala’ Gaspar Noe’s I Stand Alone. Familiar starts off on that sort of path, with us being audience to John Dodd’s inner monologue. But just when Powell masterfully builds you up to (what you assume will be) an explosive moment, he takes a hard right into a body-based trauma that would make David Cronenberg giggle. At the point in which the audience learns that the “monologue” isn’t necessarily his own, it already feels to be too late. The train to Fucked Town has left the station. It goes without saying, this can only lead to horrible, nasty, awful things.
Considering this was the first indie flick I was tackling for the new year, I was more than pleased that it came from the consistently rockin’ Fatal Pictures. Personally, I have yet to be disappointed with this indie company’s output. This team is careful to present their work in ways a lot of self-funded filmmakers do not. Familiar is gorgeously shot, strongly acted, and doesn’t rely on generic trickery to invoke its suspense. It is another successful outing from Toronto’s Fatal Pictures. They’ve trumped their previous work with a film that exceeds the idea of them being promising-it proves they’ve got what it takes to stick around. Now, let’s see a feature length, guys!