REVIEW: WHERE THE WOODS END [AM ENDE DER WALD]

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Director: Felix Ahrens | Writer (s):Lucas Flasch, Felix Ahrens |  Producer: David Nienhold | Cast: Tom Keune, Henrike von Kuick and Anna Schinz.

Where the Woods End  is a student film, but let not the negative connotations, many of which nowadays are unfounded, deter you from this taster directed by writer/director Felix Aherns. Already an award winner (Silver student academy award) this film,  directed by Felix Ahrens (one to watch, of course) and co-written with Lucas Flasch (probably best to watch these two for future collaborations) this is a seriously nice bit of suspense drama.

We’re introduced to Armin (Tom Keune) and his somewhat impulsive partner Elke, a thirty-something police woman who, in the midst of a police chase and possible drugs bust of two suspected Czech nationals, makes a split second decision that results in a fatal consequence. The film immediately throws up the old but enthralling observation of life’s unpredictability, the grey area associated with human sensibility – how every second presents choices that can impact our lives in . Suspended from work but unable to wait out her sentence, Elke descends into pit concocted of self-pity, guilt and her inherent need to piece together any loose ends that may justify her actions, at best bring some closure.  When she doesn’t receive it, it’s her desperate and blatant arrogance that leads her into an even more woeful situation. Henrike Von Kuick in the lead role, is a bewitching vision. With her large ice blue eyes taking up most of her face, almost all of her emotions are played out through a suspicious flicker, glassy stare and wide-eyed and fear-stricken peepers. She’s a worthy lead, one that could perhaps draw comparison to the crime thriller leads Sara Lund and Saga Norén, all similar in their very human, very flawed characteristics: being workaholics and single women of a certain age.

Equally wonderful is Anna Schinz as Carolina the sister of one of the suspects; she’s a complex and interesting character, empathetic in her anger towards Elke but similarly blinded by her own sense of justification makes a split second decision that in turn comes full circle to ruin Elke’s life too.

Opening up on a stunning, if not a little ominous birds-eye-view of a dense woodland on the German/Czech border, it’s never revealed what kind of film this is going to be from the off. That’s fine, because throughout thirty minutes of suspenseful thrills we’re treated to (in no particular order) a character driven; psychological and in part, horror film with a little revenge thriller (a theme still so popular in today’s contentious unjust world) for good measure. It totally works, all of it and admittedly it’s a wonder, seeing as this is a short film, it doesn’t feel rushed and doesn’t particularly leave the audience (well not this one anyway) feeling unsatisfied or even needing to see more. It’s a neatly packaged engrossing bit of film, well acted and masterfully shot and cut.

REVIEW: AN ENTANGLEMENT

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Director: Dylan Sandford | Writer: Yancy Berns| Producer: | Cast: Shiri Appleby; Gary Wolf and Sean Bell

Short film. It’s perhaps one of the hardest formats in the film and TV industry – be it independent or with a mainstream studio backing – nothing can take away from the stronghold limitations that time vs content presents. Dylan Sanford’s An Entanglement, is a brilliant example of  the good that can come about when the above constraints are mastered impressively.

When a strange man (Sean Bell) approaches Violet (Shiri Appleby) in a conspicuously public place, he makes a shocking reveal: he has been hired by her seemingly loving husband, Rick (Gary Wolf) to murder her. But the man offers Violet an alternative: pay double the rate and the man will redirect the contract back on her plotting spouse. Presented with this information, will she choose self-preservation at the cost of everything she knows? And how can she truly trust this man? Where will this deadly liaison end?

It’s a thriller, with plenty of thrills and an injection of dark humour due to the absurd divisiveness between the characters in the story. Do married couples really get to a point of wanting to kill each other? Of course, but perhaps not since Ashley Judd’s thriller Double Jeopardy (1999) has this theme been explored.

The ‘funny’ comes through the matter-of-fact, droll open discussions between the hit-man and Violet, the jilted wife and, later on, the hit-man and Violet’s despicable husband, Rick. In one diner scene between Violet and the hit-man there’s a familiarity in the vibe conjured up  that harks back to Tarantino’s earlier films.  It’s a frank execution: a brutal character exposition on human psyche through talking between the mysterious hitman and his clients. Another subtly satirical exchange takes place in the couples marital home, with Rick who launches in to a number of peculiar questions, that even the hit-man thinks is odd.  

There are small moments of normality slotted in, such as Violet’s cold call to husband Rick in the car with a rug in the seat next to her; it’s a jarring but polarising window into the acute situation running parallel to her suburban life. This twisted and ultimately sad car crash of a relationship is somewhat oddly enjoyable to watch. 

find the official trailer here :  vimeo.com/145419528