ATVA’s Film Reviews

Welcome to this years reviews for the films submitted to the AirTV Awards 2018 and buckle up because this is a long article. With a whopping 19 films being screened this year, it’s shaping up to be a brilliant day to celebrate the hard work and time that has went into each film. AirTV were generous enough to give us an early look at the films and this year, a veteran team of ATVA’s reviewers told us what they think of each film.

The Awards are on Monday the 14th of May at the Macrobert Arts Center and tickets and further information can be found here. Now, on with the reviews!


 

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Dreamcatcher – Annika Balonier

Carys

Dreamcatcher is a film about a girl whose dreams come true. The concept is simple yet beautifully executed, with a great script and fantastic cinematography. The use of slow motion during the dream sequences are highly effectual. The ending left me slightly confused and I had to watch it again, but this is a great film that is wonderfully realised by Annika Balonier.

4/5

Aaron 

The core premise of the film is interesting, it caught my curiosity and I have to admit I was interested in where it was going. While it had some glaring issues, I found myself thinking about the story long after the credits rolled, a rarity in student pictures. Unfortunately the plot hinges on the drama between the characters, so no matter how interesting the story may be, it plays on screen in a similar fashion to watching a group of five year olds fumble about in a sandpit. The acting for the most part feels stiff, but I feel this was largely due to their placement. Numerous conversation occurred with characters sitting awkwardly facing the camera, they hardly ever get the chance to behave naturally which may be why they come across as Microsoft Sam reading lines at times. We can just about hear the emotion that is meant to be presented, but the actions and the delivery left me wanting more. Speaking of which the sound design was very inconsistent, moments of quiet followed by moments of intense sound completely ruin the flow of a conversation when nobody is actually speaking any louder. One of the most successful parts of the film was through the dream sequences. The jittery slow-motion was highly effective but I feel like it should have been used throughout the sequences to create more of a sense of contingency.

An interesting plot isn’t enough to keep this film alive, as stiff acting fails to deliver the drama and emotion that was clearly intended. A good foundation that needed a more well-rounded production with a better direction to help ease the strain on the actors.

2/5

Daniel

Dreamcatcher shows off some extremely good camera work, including a particularly great bathroom shot, as well as believable acting from the main leads Annette Lordreau and CJ Fairman. However, the rest of the characters feel less real with a sometimes-melodramatic script only landing some of the time. Overall, the film by Annika Balonier kept me entertained and invested throughout though I was slightly disappointed by the ending which was far from the dramatic close I expected and desired. The final shot was fantastic though.

3/5


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Anthem – Rowan MacAskill

Carys

Rowan MacAskill is a master at fight choreography, and this is his first time directing. Anthem features no dialogue, and it simply a fun, dramatic swordfight sequence, which I’m a sucker for so I enjoyed this watch. The film is entirely black and white, which, combined with the soundtrack, made for an awesome cinematic experience. The ending is also fantastic.

4.5/5

Aaron 

The most important thing these films need to realise is their own limitations. Rather than being something it cannot be, it should relish within those restraints and do the best it can. Anthem is a perfect example of that. From the mono colouring, to the simple sound design, everything here is kept within a neat package. While I feel maybe it could have been shortened, I respect the decision to drag it out. It becomes uncomfortable, the long-take makes us want to see an end. We aren’t given it. Whether this was an objectively smart decision or not is hard to say, but I can’t help but revel in the unease it creates. We aren’t given a story, we are given some breadcrumbs as to what that story may be, always the smartest decision with these pieces, particularly with this flick, and it works incredibly well. The actors did an incredibly job, long-takes are difficult to do, especially with so much choreography and body acting involved. Yet they pull it off spectacularly. Their acting mixed with some solid sound design really helps build the world that we’re viewing, the impact of their fighting is felt.

An overall well-made film. It sets out to do exactly what it intends to, and it does so with style and finesse with all parts of the production pulling its weight.

4/5

Daniel

With some simply stunning sword-fighting choreography, Rowan MacAskill’s Anthem amazes with the camera, music and the surrounding scenery perfectly creating a suitable tone for a fantastic film. Though the swords appear far too weightless later in the film and I am unsure whether the film would have been better in colour, Anthem feels like a part of something far larger and more elaborate than it exists as currently. I would love to see more of this.

5/5


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Distant Shore – Katherine Miller

Carys

Distant Shore features some lovely camera work (and sandcastle building!). It’s an emotional piece and I loved the beach location, although overall I’m not sure I really got the film. I mostly enjoyed the film for its amazing sound design, involving a lovely score mixed with the sound of the waves.

3/5

Aaron

Probably the most ambitious part of this film would be its sound design. It’s just a shame that the sound design, like everything else, fails to really justify its existence in anyway. Nothing in this film grabbed me at any point, there was no ahh, or aww, or hmmm moment. Just one long, meh moment. The characters are bland, with the plot giving us no reason to care about them and the actors only extend the mediocrity, rather than fight against it. If the point was to create intrigue, to give us a trail of candy and hope we would want to fill in the rest of it by ourselves through our curiosity then they shouldn’t have laced the candy with a sleeping agent. The film just comes across as lazy, which is harsh but true (in my subjective viewpoint). As it was clear to me that there was a vision behind this, there was something that was meant to be portrayed to us, but there was no effort to actually bring us into this world. No satisfying coming together of all the puzzle pieces to form a whole pictures. No matter if you’re making an obvious in your face story, or a sly slow unveiling plot, you need to provide the audience with all pieces to do so, in a reasonable way. I feel like a basic understanding of how an audience develops an understanding of a film was missed. Which is fine if this exists solely for the pleasure of the creator, but with some clear hints of intelligent life seeping through every now and then, I find it hard to believe that this was any more satisfying for the makers as it was the audience.

While some basic ability is shown and the sound designs attempts to pull itself out of the mediocrity of the rest of the production, it just cannot do so. A film is the some of its parts, unfortunately every part of this is as bland as a slice of white bread, with a little question mark on it for added mystery.

2/5

Daniel

Katherine Miller’s Distant Shore was an interesting film for me. It delivers an emotional plotline, that is a bit light on detail, which is helped along by the combined force of a great soundtrack, the gentle sound of the waves and an engaging performance from lead actress Crea Barton. Distant Shore is a bitter-sweet film which I enjoyed far more than I thought I would.

4/5


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Salvation – Callum Downs

Carys

Everything Callum Downs makes is stellar, but Salvation is exceptional. The vintage black and white aesthetic is a great touch. However, what you really notice is that no shot is wasted: the story is communicated through action, not dialogue. There is a sweet innocence about this film’s story, a genuineness about it that is hard to come by. It manages to be simple and unassuming, yet astonishingly profound. MacAskill is great in it too, giving a raw and real performance. I don’t have enough good things to say about Salvation.

5/5

Aaron

Right. I get what was trying to be done, but it missed out on what makes these kind of films, interesting. It feels like when that one friend posts on Facebook ‘I JUST WANNA DISSAPEAR’, then replies to everyone with a ‘Doesn’t matter’. You’ve got my attention, do something with it. The film just feels like it’s taking the piss, either it wants to be so mysterious you have no idea what it is, or it simply doesn’t know what it is and I find the latter to by the more convincing. Some beautiful pieces of music are used in this film, but boy are they used poorly. An early scene where the protagonist runs into a man with a gun, occurs just as the music swells into a beautifully hopeful melody. Yet the scene itself is one of tension, we’re meant to be nervous for our character and then relieved when the tension dissipates. Instead the music lends itself more the beginning of a love story, but not in the unlikely friends way, in the, black leather sofa kind of way. If rather than giving us an actual story you’re going to hint at a larger picture, then do something to keep us interested. You engage with the curiosity of the audience, then go nowhere with is. A solemn, black and white film of a man walking around vaguely interacting with things is empty when it holds to meaning to the audience. We are given no reason to care for this man, he does nothing of interest, shows any emotion of relatability he doesn’t show any personality whatsoever. You may as well have held a wooden spoon in front of the camera for the entire film.  Yet this isn’t the actors fault, it’s clear from some early close-ups that he has the ability to convey emotions through his face. The director should have just thought of another emotion than that initial one, because we end up following a constipated man in his search for relief. This had the potential to pack some real emotional gut punches, but in its attempts to show not tell, it does neither. Instead the film guards itself like Gollum holding the one ring. It is okay to hint at a larger story, but you have to have something engaging which makes me care about what that larger story would be. That larger story can’t be the main point of the film if you are only going to give us a ten minute cheeky wink. At that point it feels more like you’re enjoying your own mystique, than actually trying to engage with the audience.

1/5

Daniel

In Salvation, director Callum Downs captures a perfectly created tone and atmosphere through black and white imagery, a soaring score and beautifully done camera work that tells the story of a deserter tired of death. The simple storyline is an example of less certainly saying more with Rowan MacAskill delivering a performance to be proud of; evoking emotion from the audience with body language alone. Salvation is student film making at its finest and a fitting send off for Callum. Simply put, Salvation is not just his best film, but AirTV’s best film.

5/5 (I’d give more if I could)


 

Being in a Band – Toni Benedetti 

Carys

Being in a Band is a documentary about, you guessed it: being in a band. Darkness Devine is a Scottish metal band featuring Toni Benedetti, the director of this film. Metal is not necessarily to my taste, but I certainly appreciate the skill involved in the genre. This documentary features some nice footage from rehearsals and live shows, interspersed with each member of Darkness Devine narrating their experience of playing and recording together. Overall, it’s an interesting watch, but not one that stays with me after viewing.

2/5

Aaron

Documentaries are always a nice change of pace but they can be hit and miss. You can be the most successful filmmaker on the planet, but if you’re making a documentary about something that’s as interesting as damp sand then you’ve got an issue. Thankfully not only is this a well-made documentary, but the topic at hand is interesting. The band itself is not only a bit of a musical marvel, but they have a great sense of humour and that is brought into its full potential by the pacing of the film. The timing of the individual interviews feels similar to mockumentaries such as The Office, but instead of making the subject matter ridiculous, it brings out the levity and humour of the band members. The sound design is decent, but it’s clear that they were wrangling with balancing quiet interviews with mind blowing rocking metal. While in the live concerts the sound design falters a little bit, that isn’t the fault of the filmmakers, it’s the limitations of the equipment. Thankfully the live footage isn’t the main focus of the film, instead the interactions and feelings of the individual band members. The light-hearted nature of the band brings the piece together.

While it may not be anything mind blowing, it provides a well-made, balanced outlook on a band which is both thoroughly engaging and entertaining.

3.5/5

Daniel

A documentary about director Toni Benedetti’s band, Being in a Band delivers precisely what the title tells you. Coming across primarily as promotion material, the film features enjoyable interviews with some clearly talented individuals concerning an interesting subject matter. Sadly, the film is let down slightly by some shaky camera work and changing sound levels throughout. I enjoyed the look into life in a band but the film unfortunately left no lasting impression for me.

2.5/5


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Big D – Danny Flynn

Carys

Big D is a fun, self-aware mockumentary, centring on Danny Flynn, the “Big D” himself, attempting to sell his “Greatest Hit” films on DVD. I really enjoy the parts where other AirTV members are critiquing his filmmaking career. However, the film relies heavily on Flynn himself, but his dead pan performance just didn’t make me laugh sadly.

1/5

Aaron

Self-deprecating humour. Always gotta love it. But it is a difficult tight-rope to walk. A David Brent, Michael Scott-esque character, is difficult to pull off. In this way the film just misses the mark.  The end of the day this is about humour, its about making the audience laugh. Unfortunately our protagonist, while obviously having some good comedy chops, doesn’t quite deliver the laughs. The funniest moments come from those being interviewed and again they also have a difficult line to walk. You have to develop a dislike towards a character or a rooting for another character, before you can find humour in cruelty. We don’t hate Baldrick in Blackadder, but we love Blackadder enough that we don’t care. We do find David Brent to be distasteful and uncomfortable, so we understand and enjoy when someone pokes fun at him. Big D jumps the gun a little too fast with the cruelty. The audience understand Big D’s film trailer as a joke, so we don’t associate him as deluded yet. The stumble at the beginning can be felt throughout as the character of Big D struggles to truly get a grounding and feel like a fleshed out character. The sound design can be a bit iffy at points, but is generally good and the cinematography works best in the interview segments, often feeling a bit dissociated during the other scenes.

Overall it wasn’t terrible and I did genuinely laugh at a few points, with some clear potential in the writings. All together though it just felt a bit like a slice of wet bread.

2.5/5

Daniel

How do I even review Danny Flynn’s Big D?  Like seriously? The film is purposefully bad in fitting with the style that Danny has become an expert in crafting. ‘Talking Head’ Interviews with AirTV members are entertaining though the film features some genuinely awful camera work (part being filmed on a phone), a mess of sound levels and a random structure which suggests no script actually existed. Yet all of this is not being harsh because I love this film. Big D is genuinely hilarious at times and might be AirTV’s funniest film. But it might not be. Danny could be seen as the best actor although it’s unsure if he is actually acting so I don’t know if it even counts? It won’t be to everyone’s taste but it was to mine. I think?

5/5 (or 0/5…I really don’t know)


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His Castles – James Holtom 

Carys

James Holtom continues with his documentary style from last year, but this time around, he nails it. This film was such a fascinating watch for me, and I loved it far more than I expected to. Here Holtom explores the concept of home with people who feel displaced. It’s a personal, relatable topic, which really resonates with me, which is why I enjoyed this film so much, despite its flaws. The audio very good for the most part, but most of the shots were quite uninspired to be honest, simply featuring people talking. The last section was let down by poor lighting. But for me, none of that mattered. I adore this film, it has an empathetic message, and features some charming childhood photos. Honestly, it could be my favourite of the year.

5/5

Aaron

An interesting look into some of the personal beliefs and opinions of individuals in relation to what home means to them. Honestly don’t have much to say about this, beyond mild praise. The people being interviewed felt natural and were interesting to watch and the conclusion brought the whole experience together neatly. A lesson in mediocrity. The subject matter was relatable enough to keep me interested, but nothing remotely new was discussed or realised. While the conclusion worked, it just wasn’t satisfying. There was nothing to be gained from this, but also nothing to be lost. The production was fine but with little occurring there wasn’t many opportunities to push the boat out.

While this definitely won’t be remembered as one of the worst or best of this year’s offerings, I would be surprised if it was remembered at all.

2.5/5

Daniel

His Castles continues James Holtom’s style from last year’s ATVAs but in a far more polished style with interesting interviews about the simple subject of home. The sound quality is mostly good throughout and the clearly very personal documentary should be applauded for how it handles something everyone can relate to and understand. It delivers exactly what you want.

4/5


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Final Cut – Fiona Burton 

Carys

Fiona Burton’s film features bizarre poetry about… hair. This film is pretty, sure. There’s a lot going on here: tasteful cinematography, interesting images and even some stop motion animation. The editing is, without a doubt, some of the most impressive I’ve seen in an ATVA. Sadly, the film just didn’t resonate with me like I wanted it to. The thing about hair being a metaphor, I’m not sure I understood it. Still pretty, though.

2.5/5

Aaron

This film had a difficult task with me. Unsurprisingly I can be pretty dismissive of what I feel is empty art. All film is art and therefore subjective so there is no real way I can ever comment something to truly be objectively good or bad, smart or stupid. Yet I can present my opinion. Which is that some art is utter shit. This is not utter shit. In fact it is not even a bit shit. It’s actually pretty god damn good. The poetry can be a little heavy handed at times for my taste, but subtlety isn’t the goal here and that’s okay. The imagery is beautiful, it is well paced and actually invokes an emotional response. Isn’t invoking an emotional response really the mark of a good piece of art? I don’t actually have much else to say, because like any good piece of art you should experience it for yourself.

While probably not to the taste of everyone, I enjoyed it. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. Frankly I don’t care.
4/5

Daniel

Final Cut showcases poetic storytelling in a different way than I have seen before. Fiona Burton tells a tale of haircuts, acceptance, understanding and life with video, still image and animation underneath a simple voiceover. While I am not a huge fan of this style of film personally, I can certainly appreciate how this film has been made and applaud the effort.

2/5


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Dolly and Elaine – Marijne Nieuwerf

Carys

Dolly and Elaine is a cheesy sit-com style film about two married lawyers who are representing opposing clients in a divorce case. The audio is oddly quiet throughout which really lets the quality of the film down overall, but the script is mostly witty (when I can hear it) and the ending, although predictable, was charming and funny. An enjoyable watch and good performances all round.

3/5

Aaron

I had to ask someone if this was a comedy. Not because they fail to demonstrate their genre, or fail to present the specific time period sit-com that they are parodying, but because I failed to laugh. Not once did I even crack a smile. The two leads clearly have some good chemistry between them, but none of it was funny.  The writers clearly never wrapped their heads around arguably the most integral part of writing a comedy.  Writing a joke.

This film should only be showed as a demonstration of what not to do when making a comedy.

0/5

Daniel

Dolly and Elaine features Tessa Richards and Eilidh Nurse as married lawyers on opposite sides of a divorce case in a film that is mostly funny in spite of not every bit landing for me. Some extremely low sound levels made it very difficult to actually hear at times although a well-written script was delivered very well by the leads. Though I was not a fan of the style in which Dolly and Elaine was delivered – featuring an odd video effect that detracted from the actual film – I enjoyed my time with the dysfunctional lawyers

3/5


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Supper at Emu’s – Ross Provan 

Carys

Ross Provan’s film Supper at Emu’s was pretty strange. Towards the end I managed to piece together the story, but I found it quite hard to work out what was going on at the start. The film features two revolutionaries looking to overthrow an oppressive government, whilst deciding their course of action after losing their leader. The most frustrating part of this film for me is the supposed tyrannical government. We are told the government is evil, but not shown why. Personally, I feel knowing this would make me more invested in the story. Regardless, the final act is quite interesting. You can tell this film is part of a bigger story, and I’m sure if Provan had more than 15 minutes to tell it, it would be a more fulfilling experience overall.

1/5

Aaron 

An incredibly ambitious picture, with a fleshed out plot, world building and interesting characters. A couple of production issues and shots that should have been re-taken get in the way of this reaching its full potential, but I have to admire the balls on it for being what it is. Other than one or two clunky moments, the acting works, it sells me that this world is a real one, with real consequences. Some impressive make-up and decent use of costumes further helps the development of the world. One issue I have is the film seems to stumble at the beginning in finding its tone, shifting between serious and comedy for a little too long, making it a little difficult to really throw yourself into the world. But overall the film pulls off what it intends to and I thoroughly enjoyed it for what it is.

An ambitious, if sometimes clunky, piece that is largely successful in pushing the boat out for what can be achieved within the limitations it faces.

4/5

Daniel 

In spite of a decent script and some interesting effects, I’m genuinely unsure if I could tell you what was going on in Ross Provan’s Supper at Emu’s. Though I am unsure if that was intentional, Supper at Emu’s is inconsistently filmed with a confusing structure that made the film slightly difficult to watch at moments. A brief yet entertaining performance from Rowan Rennie and solid acting from Marc Stewart amongst others did make the film worth watching however.

2/5


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Silence – Elizabeth Clutterbuck 

Carys

Silence is a story about a man who witnesses a crime, and then takes action. Again, the cinematography here is brilliant, and the film’s opening is intriguing. The shots are interesting, and make for a delightful viewing experience. The film’s lead, Ed Whitaker, carries this film, delivering a strong performance that I was really impressed by. The soundtrack and overall sound design is great too, building suspense and tension in a compelling manner.

4/5

Aaron 

Silence managed to create a genuine feeling of anxiety and dread in me. A little pit in my stomach was genuinely worried within the first half, it managed to create the exact feeling it had been intending to. Then it subverted my expectations for how these things usually go by throwing a curveball.

Short, simple and effective. Managing to create an actual emotional response can be difficult, for that alone this film deserves merit.

4/5

Daniel

Silence creeps along at a slow pace which kept me curious and waiting for what would happen next. Clutterbuck’s direction of the film works brilliantly with the minimal use of speech working perfectly with the body language of the actors (particularly lead Ed Whitaker) and the sound effects being the stars of the film. Silence is appropriately tense throughout and is underpinned by a minimal score that makes it an uncomfortable joy to watch.

4.5/5


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Servus – Cory Thomas

Carys

Cory Thomas’ film Servus was a stand out for me. It is dark, creepy, and basically frightening. It tells the story of Callan, who wakes up and finds himself in chains, forced to be a slave. It’s an unsettling watch, and Callum Swan’s performance as the captor is pretty horrifying. This film had me on the edge of my seat the whole time, as Callan, wonderfully played by James Lee, is visibly pushed to the edge. Swan and Lee’s performances are great, making for a rich, memorable film.

4.5/5

Aaron

Servus is a beautifully made piece, with every aspect being its strongest point. The premise and the story are probably its weakest aspect, but the actors carry it so well it doesn’t matter. A mediocre plot acted fantastically can be just as incredibly to watch and Servus is just that, incredible to watch. I love the way we have one character who won’t stop talking the entire time, he is a delight to watch and is probably the best actor from this year. I’m a sucker for a good villain and this feels straight from the pages of a comic book. This is contrasted with the other, the slave, the one has to sell his entire character through his body language and facial expressions. A much more difficult position that a lot of high end actors can’t manage, but he pulls it off with grace and style. The production is perfectly fitting, with quality sound design and effective cinematography, with everything being brought together through the use of intelligent set pieces and practical effects.

A bloody marvellous piece and the only example of utterly perfect performances this year.

5/5

Daniel

Servus shows off a well-written script that doesn’t appear to be anything particularly special, although the narrative is definitely compelling and kept me gripped throughout. Calum Swan delivers in a genuinely menacing and disturbing role opposite a fantastically subtle performance from James Lee. Though one particular scene of Cory Thomas’ film is incredibly uncomfortable and awful to watch – and is needlessly included for an effect that is not improved by the scene’s inclusion – Servus kept me watching because of it’s acting rather than anything else.

4/5


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Trump II – Jack Buchanan and Cory Thomas

Carys

I don’t really have much to say about Trump II. I enjoyed its predecessor, but this sequel is just not my cup of tea. The concept of this film is pretty funny, but it’s executed in a way that just came off as awkward and uncomfortable to me. Kieran Daly’s reprisal of Collins is pretty good though.

0.5/5

Aaron

Kieran Daly steals the show. In fact he carries it. Not only is his dialogue the strongest, but his acting is the strongest. Kieran takes to the role like a fish to water, whereas everyone else feels more like a beached whale. Not entirely sure who actually played Trump (credits didn’t specify and Kieran is the only one I actually recognise #mediabias), but I have to admire his commitment. Unfortunately the dialogue he received just wasn’t particularly funny. God damn as much as I didn’t find it funny I have to give credit for the final scene. The pure steel balls demonstrated through filming and editing that scene is deserving of some kind of award. Maybe one made out of macaroni and glitter on a paper plate, but an award all the same.

While most of the production fails to land a laugh, Daly’s role carries the film through with humour and charisma. Unfortunately the film Daly’s carrying is more akin to a dead horse than a comedy.

2.5/5

Daniel

Trump II has a great opening that did manage to make me laugh though everything is downhill from there in the sequel directed by Jack Buchanan and Cory Thomas. Kieran Daly does a good job throughout the film with some decent lines although Jack Buchanan’s titular performance is disappointing and nowhere near strong enough to make the film work. While one overly long scene is memorable and slightly amusing for all the wrong reasons, I find it difficult to recommend Trump II as a film. After the success and relative hilarity of the first film, Trump II sadly just isn’t very funny.

1.5/5


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Interference – James Lee

Carys 

Interference is a sci-fi horror, where Calum Moore’s character must escape from a zombie apocalypse. There is a part of this film that made me squirm, it’s pretty horrifying. I really enjoyed this though, Lee is a great director and managed to produce some genuine tension which ticked all the boxes for me. The ending was great, with Elizabeth Clutterbuck’s vocal delivery being a stand out for me.

4/5

Aaron

An unfortunate case of style over substance. Visually, the entire film feels professional. With impressive set pieces, smooth editing and solid sound design. The films feels claustrophobic, the sense of emergency really comes through. Unfortunately the plot and the drama fall flat. While the main actor manages to bring us into the world, thanks largely to set pieces, he fails to bring us into his emotional sphere. A lot of our emotional connection and involvement with the story comes from our connection with him, and he fails to truly connect with the audience.

A beautiful film but scratch at the surface and we never quite get to the emotions the film intends for us.

3/5

Daniel

Presenting a creative, if slightly predictable, plotline that works for the length of the film, James Lee’s Interference is a sci-fi horror that is different to most student films I have seen before. Lee gets the intro and set up spot on through providing just enough to keep the audience interested and curious as to what is going on. Though the acting really didn’t work for me and came across as a tad unbelievable in a few scenes, the effects featured in the film work perfectly. Video tape stuttering and repeating, radio voice over and crackle, and CCTV footage all help to make a coherent tone that made me enjoy the film overall.

3.5/5


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Draugr – Sean McLaughlin 

Carys

Sean McLaughlin is a highly ambitious director, and Draugr is one of his best. This film focuses on two WW2 soldiers who must join forces to fight a supernatural monster. Every part of this film is wonderfully crafted, with thought being given to every detail. The lighting is amazing, with the majority of Draugr being shot outside at night, which is what really impressed me. Stunning cinematography and compelling acting, make this a thoroughly watchable film.

4.5/5

Aaron

Alright who allowed professional film makers into this? I’m a little taken aback. Speechless. Everything about this film hits the highest standards. I always bang on about working within your limitations. Don’t listen to me. I’m clearly talking shit because apparently there are no limitations cause these assholes made something worthy of being beyond a piece of amateur cinema.

Jesus tap dancing Christ just watch it.

5/5

Daniel

Director Sean McLaughin shows off some technically impressive film-making with a high production value and some excellent camera work in a film which focuses less on plot and more of effect and atmosphere. Draugr’s supernatural plotline contains a satisfying ending moment though does seem a bit predictable in nature. Some jarring sound effects and an overly dark presentation slightly ruined my overall enjoyment of the film though I appreciate the technical film-making that brings the film together.

2.5/5


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Flem – Brice Ledingham 

Carys

Flem is my favourite comedy of the year. It’s a continuous stream of unrelated sketches (a couple which feature fire extinguishers that really tickled me). The idea for this film seems to be: lets make some sketches using random stuff found in and around Pathfoot. I’m okay with that. It’s weird, it’s silly, and I love it. Some of the sound effects are hilarious too. It looks like it was a lot of fun to make.

5/5

Aaron

Sigh. It shouldn’t be funny. Fuck me it is though. While some of the sketches fall flat. This has been true of almost every sketch show of all time. It goes hand in hand with the genre. God damn if I didn’t actually laugh at most of this.

Silly, stupid and funny. It may stumble at times but for the most parts it will leave you at the very least with a smile on your face.

3.5/5

Daniel 

Flem is a weird, confusing and bizarre mixture of the random and the seemingly improvised. Brice Ledingham’s ‘film’ is not complex, heavy or memorable and features no plot or real characters, but instead consists of a series of sketches and amusing voiceovers that include some inanimate objects as stars. Some sketches land and are hilarious but others don’t, making Flem fun to watch, but maybe only once.

3.5/5


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Acceptance – Martina Inchingolo 

Carys

Acceptance centres around an Italian from a conservative family moving to Scotland, and their experience with different cultures’ attitudes to sexuality. It’s a short, thought provoking film that was nicely shot and edited. I don’t have much to say about it, but the use of narration was really good, and the script is great.

3/5

Aaron

A rare piece of understated drama. Feel like the exposition aspects don’t serve much of a purpose to the building of an emotional response, so maybe shouldn’t have been given as much time as they were. Also how difficult was it to find an actual bloody cross?

A look into a very real emotional story, bogged down by early exposition, the acting and the music help push this to create the desired emotional response.

3/5

Daniel

Acceptance is a thought-provoking short film about something that can be difficult to talk about. A voice over by Calum Moore is fantastically delivered and fits brilliantly with the background footage which is acted very well by all members of the cast. While not something that will stay with me, the film is both relevant and important and, overall, a good watch.

3.5/5


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15,000 Words – Crea Barton 

Carys

15,000 Words is a film by Crea Barton, centring on meetings between a student and their dissertation supervisor, and how their relationship shapes the writing process. Bede Batters are Eilidh Nurse were great in their roles, and it was a really sweet, enjoyable watch. It manages to encapsulate the frustrations and joys of the dissertation process in quite an imaginative way.

3.5/5

Aaron 

I have to hate myself a little bit for this. The entire production is incredibly well put together. The sound design is perfect, the cinematography is excellent, the acting is natural and the entire story flows well. I just. Don’t understand why. Where was the heart? All the pieces were there to create a wonderful drama, an insight into the trials and tribulations of writing a dissertation, allow us to follow her on an emotional journey rather than simply an academic one. The potential is there for so much more, but we never quite get there.

A wonderfully produced piece, that just fails to meet its own standards through a lacklustre and soulless story.

3.5/5

Daniel

The story told in 15,000 Words will be instantly recognisable for any final year University student like myself, with Crea Barton’s film showing the audience one student’s dissertation journey with her supervisor. With a satisfying structure that almost mirrors the structure of a dissertation, the film accurately portrays experience of many a student and made me smile as scenes mirrored my own time writing my own dissertation. Solid acting from Bede Batters and Eilidh Nurse brilliantly shows the evolving working relationship between a supervisor and his student and did make me want Bede as my own supervisor more than once. Both do a great job in making their characters likeable but, more importantly, real. 15,000 Words is well written, well directed and well-acted – a complete surprise as to how much I enjoyed it.

5/5


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Trapped – Rowen Rennie 

Carys

In Trapped, two couples get locked in a flat with vodka. It’s an entertaining premise that features a very jealous girlfriend, and as the film goes on, secrets are uncovered in a surprising way. However, some of the line deliveries didn’t land for me, and it kind of ruined my enjoyment of the film.

2.5/5

Aaron

Trapped reminds me a lot of Carnage (2011), in all the best ways, except for one. The premise is wonderful and perfectly sets up an excuse to have extended dialogue between the characters in order to really delve into their relationships and the way they impact one another. I have a massive soft spot for pieces like this because it is often the case in real life that realisations and truths come out in explosive bursts. Unfortunately, the acting doesn’t meet the needs of the writing. Genuinely funny and genuinely intriguing moments fall flat due to an inability from the actors to properly portray what is needed in these moments. As with a lot of films this year, there is a lot of really strong aspects that are let down by one or two shortcomings. Unfortunately in this film, it is a rather large shortcoming. The acting turns what should be satisfying moments into disappointment. Like finding a remaining digestive only to discover it has become soft and doesn’t offer the delicious private moment with a biscuit you were hoping for. The taste is still the same, but the way we have to experience the taste is unpleasant enough that it makes you wonder if it’s really worth it.

An excellent premise let down by some awful acting. The potential to be something great is let down by our main method of interacting with the world and the characters, much to the disappointment of this reviewer.

2.5/5

Daniel

Trapped presents a very simple premise of four people trapped in a room. While not original, Rowan Rennie’s film is both awkward and funny in parts with good acting from all, especially Calum Moore. At a good length so that the film’s limited plot does not overstay its welcome in the slightest, Trapped is bookended with a great title card and an amusing payoff at the end.

3/5

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