Independent films are a crap shoot much of the time. We have all seen some great ones, but now that it is easier and easier for people to make films, the good ones are further between. I try to be open minded with every film, but sometimes the DIY indes are tough to watch. The good news is that this is not at all the case with the new horror short "Familiar." In fact, I would go as far as saying that Familiar sets a standard that other independent films should be aiming for.
The synopsis that accompanied the film reads "Through a series of tragic events a middle aged man grows to suspect the negative impulses plaguing his mind may not be his own." I am sure that all of us have listened to that "little voice" from time to time, sometimes at our own peril.
We follow a short time frame with a family of 3 in the movie. It is obvious fairly quickly that this family has some significant difficulty communicating. They really seem to dislike the existence of each other throughout the film.
The film has an uneasy feeling throughout, the type of mood that reminded me of Cutting Moments. In fact, there are a number of parallels that could be drawn between the 2 films. I will leave it at that so as not to spoil any part of this truly fine film. When you get the opportunity to see it, you will know what I mean if you have seen the Douglas Buck short. This does not mean that the film is at all lacking in terms of originality. In fact, the story line is quite unique.
Several items often stand out in independent films. First, the more obvious quality of acting. The acting in Familiar is excellent. The interactions have a dysfunctional quality that appears genuine and makes you uncomfortable at times. Not a bad uncomfortable feeling, a genuine feeling that something sinister is going on with this family and you can cut the tension with a knife. The times that they say nothing to each other speak just as loudly. Another very difficult thing to pull off is for the viewer to hear a person's inner voice and not make it look ridiculous like Dee Snider in Strangeland. This film scores big in that area also. The inner voice directs the movie but it never seems annoying nor does it just drone on pointlessly.
The gore in this film is top notch and reminiscent of something that you would see from a Toe Tag production. There is no turning the camera away and leaving the images to the imagination. The gore is not only well done, but the director did not shy away from an in your face approach to the brutality.
The dialogue is the strongest part of the film, whether it is an interaction between people or the father thinking out loud. The dialogue manages to tell a complete story in a very short amount of time, which is generally no easy task.
In short, I cannot say enough about this film. Its' run time of 24 minutes feels like it is 5 minutes long. The acting is excellent, the gore superb and the dialogue perfectly effective. Familiar is an independent gem that you should see as soon as you have the opportunity! I suspect that this film will have a rather long life once it gets the exposure that it clearly deserves.
Overall Score- 9 out of 10