|Index||4 reviews in total|
It is late at night when Paul is drawn from his porch by a strange
noise coming from Hank's house. The noise is Hank digging a hole in the
dusty dirt at the foot of his yard however the only issue Paul has is
that he is using Paul's shovel to do it one that he lent to him
months before but never got back. Hank is annoyed by this comment and
makes a big deal of returning it that very night. The next day Paul
wakes to find that his shovel has indeed been returned to his porch but
then starts to worry about the nature of the hole.
I won't spoil it but this short film is a nice little potted mystery that is build, floated and concluded all in the space of 15 minutes. The conclusion is a solid one but really it is all the work that had gone before this point that made me enjoy it. The opening scenes at night make for a great hook as they are full of intrigue and questions and lead neatly into later discoveries and developments. It moves quickly along to the point where I didn't really worry about specifics or have a lot of time to work it all out myself. The atmosphere is vital and in this regard Childs has done a great job in the script but also the direction.
He benefits from having a strong cast including some more used to "bigger" films that this. Strathairn makes an engaging lead and his delivery is spot on required straightforward but with an edge to it. He is matched by smaller but equally good turns from Guinee and Huff the former in particularly being a good presence. Overall then a punchy film that builds and delivers a satisfying story in a short time showing that not all short films need to be arty and introspective!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Maybe I'm just too thick to understand what really happened. Like for
instance, why was the neighbor digging in the first place? He didn't
seem a bit like a fella coerced into shoveling by any unseen presence.
So then how did the killer know to return the shovel?
One might guess he was lurking nearby while the husband chatted that fateful night, but there's no evidence the filmmaker cared to acknowledge either plot hole.
IMO the best mysteries oughta have a "tell" somewhere along the way, a reason why, as the credits roll, the reader / viewer can exclaim.. "Ah hah, I shoulda coulda woulda guessed." Not here.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I managed to catch this on a Friday night on KQED, the San Francisco PBS station, and I'm glad I did. The production is designed & executed flawlessly in its lighting, camera-work, editing & locations, making for a high-caliber short. The opening is a bit slow, suffering in spots from 'the indie curse' of long shots of the characters staring and 'thinking'. And the dialog is a bit too unrealistically snappy, it was a stretch for me to believe 2 small-town fellas having a conversation like this - even under the terse circumstances of one man digging a hole in the middle of the night with his neighbor's borrowed, titular shovel. David Strathairn is one of my favorite actors - he is an understated gem in this film, and the other costars really hold their own on screen with him. Not to give away the plot ending, but when the story picks up and the climax arrives, it really comes home fast and hard. The director shows he has a knack, if not a masterful grip, on several styles of pacing in the storytelling, and setting a mysterious tone. Overall, superb, hope to see more from Nick Childs in the future.
The Shovel hooked me from the opening credits (the score sets a
deliciously haunting tone) and kept me guessing right up until the last
moment. It's got an M. Night/Hitchcockian style where the visuals and
the music create a feeling that is strangely eerie without ever going
over the top. David Strathairn, pitch-perfect as usual, leads a tight
The Shovel is everything a great short film should be - a simple (but compelling) premise that in 15 minutes provides a satisfying experience equal to most feature films. I look forward to seeing much more from Nick Childs.
|External reviews||Official site||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|