Straight off a win from the 2016 Drunken Film Festival in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, comes a quirky, well written short. Though bleak and serious in its setting, there are definitely lots of laughs here. Polterheist, written by David Gilbank and Paul Renhard, is an entertaining watch, with a nicely planned plot. Though I get a little tense about watching shorts, as you never know what you’re going to get, I am happy to say that, overall, this one delivers some surprising fun.
The Nitty Gritty
If you’re looking for a beautifully filmed English period piece, go elsewhere. This one starts out hard, gray and abrasive, hearkening the early works of Guy Ritchie and the film Twin Town. The story starts in an average looking flat, in a run down town. Two masked thugs, seemingly menacing and tough, sit at a table across from the distressed medium, Alice (Kathryn Hanke).
They threaten her at gun point, to call upon the spirit of Frank Shore, one of their deceased cohorts, to find out where he buried a bag of money before he was killed. After some witty banter between the two thugs, we see that maybe they aren’t quite as hard and together as they seem. When Frank takes over Alice’s body though, the real fun begins.
Frank, also played brilliantly by Kathryn Hanke, comes back to life in full force. He was the clear show runner in his day and even in death, that still hasn’t changed. The two thugs, revealed to be the mumbling Tariq (Sid Akbar Ali) and the gullible, dim witted Boxy (Jamie Smelt), are still very intimidated by Frank. Though they try to threaten him, having kidnapped Frank’s precious Lucy (girlfriend? child?), his presence, moxie and power over them is ever present.
Kathryn Hanke‘s performance as both Alice and Frank is a winner. She is able to seamlessly go back and forth between the two, distinct characters without skipping a beat. Both Ali and Smelt quiver and cower to her perfectly and, as it turns out, they have good reason to be afraid. After all, they are responsible for Frank’s death, and Frankie is gunning for revenge.
What didn’t function so well in Polterheist was the editing and soundtrack. The editing was clunky to the point of distraction. Too many cuts to seemingly unnecessary things made it difficult for me to stay immersed in the story. A couple of songs were also clumsily added in the film, and, though I think the point was to stay along the Guy Ritchie motif, the loud, bashing songs simply didn’t fit. They were noticeably edited in, which also took away from the overall flow and suspension of disbelief.
Overall Polterheist was a fun short, never taking itself too seriously and staying consistent in its nature. Both the writing and Hanke‘s performance were the stars here. Though probably not meant to be a grand think piece, the well-planned script was front and center in a generally enjoyable film.
This year’s Drunken Film Festival is exactly where this film belonged. Even its questionable sounding title turns out to be wittily appropriate, and some well thought out twists wrap up this dark, comedic, gangster short, enjoyably. Grab a couple pints and take a look!
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