“Collar” is an intense dialogue driven short film that introduces a lot of fun questions about what it means to exist in this universe in the beginning, and then throwing a nice fun twist in the middle to show the character’s true intentions.
The short film opens up to a Priest sitting on a bench on a nice, beautiful, day while reading his Bible. A Man rudely interrupts him and tries to play it off as nice. They get talking about what it means to believe in God and Jesus and religion in general. It raises a lot of thought-provoking questions, which I do believe every human has questioned at least once in their lifetime. At first it’s played off as an odd encounter, then by the middle, it takes a twist I hadn’t seen coming. I won’t go into too much about spoilers, but I will say that the stakes are raised with each turn the character’s take to speak. It’s like a steady rollercoaster going up a ramp towards the peak of an unforeseen demise.
The one thing I really enjoyed about this was how dialogue driven it was. Sure, a lot of it seemed a little expositional, but the way the scene is set up really covers that. I automatically tuned in to what had to be said; like a fish caught on a hook, I was reeled in by the story that was being told verbally. It forces the viewer to use their imagination.
Another thing is the cinematography was top-notch. Slow and steady shots determined the pace of the conversation. When the topic intensified, the editing would match that to close-up’s of the character’s, making us feel rather intrusive on a conversation that would be private otherwise. There’s a shot near the end that reminded me of SE7EN from the director David Fincher and it made me smile because of how beautiful it looked.
It wouldn’t be fair to leave out the actors in this short. They pulled off believable characters. At first I wasn’t so sure on the Man who interrupts the Priest, he seemed really off putting, but by the end he sells his character and I was intrigued. I was a little surprised by the thematic element of hypocrisy this short shows both characters to have. I especially wasn’t expecting the very last scene, but I somehow came to appreciate how it really embedded more questions into my mind regarding what each character’s true intentions were and why? Is there something more than what they are saying?
The overall direction was really good for as how dialogue heavy this short tended to be. Each angle, each cut, and each action the character’s did really moved the story forward. Director Russ Emanuel really knows how to pack a lot of intensity within a 12 minute scene of information.
My only real criticism of the piece was some of the dialogue seemed a little clunky at times and a little odd. Almost too on the nose. A little more ambiguity would be nice, especially seeing as each character has their own motives. I would rather not know what exactly they are thinking word for word, and have more subtext. Sometimes, actions can speak louder than words.
That being said, if this were to ever be adapted into a feature length film, it would be one intense movie with how well the other elements go for it such as: directing, editing, acting, and cinematography. Those elements combined really make me want to see what else Russ Emanuel can do with characters and in one particular setting.