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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

An ordinary family dealing with an extraordinary tragedy

Author: Tara Moore from Kent
18 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Right from the get-go, I was sucked into Danny Stack's Origins. The moody lighting in the opening forest shots alerted me to the possibility that something wicked was potentially coming my way - 'wicked' in both the traditional and street sense of the word. I was not disappointed. Superb casting lifted this short above the norm. There was an air of quiet desperation about the characters, a surface calm belied by furious paddling underneath, as they struggled with their humdrum daily existence. There is the sense that communication between the parents is jaded, any real depth having been worn away through time, familiarity and perhaps even a little contempt. Even their teenage son seems to be no more than a shadowy adjunct, skirting along on the outside of their lives. The civilised veneer cracks, however, when the lad is bitten ostensibly by next door's dog and the parents are catapulted into really engaging not only with each other again, but with each other's basest fears and emotions. There is a pervasive hint that there is more to the story than just a simple canine nip. Firstly, it appears to have happened in the 'sinister' forest, and when the bite fails to respond to medication and the youth breaks out in an agonising and disfiguring rash, causing him to emit sounds more anima than human, that impression is heightened. (I was thinking werewolves!).

Throughout the dialogue is tense, tight and unadorned. Not a word is wasted. Yet, there is sufficient to reveal everything we need to know about the characters and the tragedy of the unfolding situation. By the end, we have had access all areas to their rawest emotions. Unashamedly, I admit I was moved almost to tears by the final scene and my heart was beating just a little too fast for comfort. Great stuff. If this is the precursor to a full-length movie, that's a ticket sold in advance.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Short. Powerful. Haunting.

Author: dan-421-105621 from United Kingdom
15 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Surprisingly, after watching Origin, I was left with the sound of Joni Mitchell singing Big Yellow Taxi in my head.

"Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got Till it's gone"

Imagine that, if you will, being played over a tritone - and you get the haunting theme to this short film.

As Freddy Holmes (Jack Blumenau) wanders in to the house, arm pouring with blood, you get the impression that it's going to take something more tragic than a bite to clear the emotional fog that's descended on his family. It's impenetrable.

Parents, Claire (Katy Carmichael) & Jimmy (Lee Ross) are utterly disengaged. Him, lost in the mundane routine of work, struggling to present any manners or grace in front of his long standing wife. Her, so eroded by the experience that she's seeking comfort elsewhere.

Yet the bite on their son's arm refuses to heal and the ensuing infection slowly takes Freddy away from them piece by piece. As he fades, the resulting void becomes a black hole that brings Claire & Jimmy together in the crashing realisation that they did in fact have 'something'.

It amazes me just how much information can be conveyed in circa 13 minutes. The briefness of the story left a fascination that was hard to shake. Yet, by the final credits, I came away feeling that I had invested in the family & completely engaged in their drama.

There were some great things in this award winning short. The casting was excellent. Every member delivered what was necessary at each moment of the story arc. I particularly liked the way that Carmichael & Ross began to rediscover their relationship in the hospital scenes. By the time the wheezing Blumenau finally gave up the ghost, I was utterly convinced by their winded, wordless, grief stricken stumbling. Moreso considering that all this had to be effective in under thirteen minutes.

I was also really pleased to find out that 'short' didn't mean 'cheap'. This film looked good throughout and even a touch beautiful in places. I never felt like I was fighting the direction as it flowed nicely - and the whole piece was bereft of clunky or awkward dialogue.

Ultimately, I felt haunted by the fate of Freddy. Further by the fact that it took an event of that magnitude to slap the parents out of their trance and bring them to appreciate the value of what they had as they stood in its wake.

I'm talking as if it's a news item rather than a drama. I've been reeled in. I defy others to achieve the same effect in such a short timescale.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A moody, emotional horror short

Author: Ben Dutton from United Kingdom
15 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***This review contains spoilers*** Origin is a short film, written and directed by Danny Stack, which won Best Horror at the London Independent Film Festival in 2012.

Lee Ross and Katy Carmichael play the parents of a young man, Freddy (Jack Blumenau), whose life is upturned when their son is bitten by a mysterious creature in the local woodland. Such a logline will leave many with the impression that this will be a supernatural horror film, and the mise-en-scène would seem to support this impression. The atmospheric, eerily shot woodland, punctuated with a scream that open this short, bolt you solidly into the world. "Were you in the woods again?" Claire asks her son as he stumbles into the kitchen. "He's been bitten," his father observes. Through these tense, nervous observations, Stack opens his film.

What follows, however, is not a movie that foregrounds the supernatural. As their son's illness, contracted through the bite, worsens and his skin becomes mottled and scaly, the couple find their relationship disintegrating further than it already has. The two leads, both well-established TV actors in the UK, portray the fractured relationship between Claire and Jimmy with gritty realism. You might not like either of them, or how they act, but they are human and well-realised on screen. Their isolation from one another also heightens the disconnect they feel as Freddy's condition worsens, but it is also the force majeure that will bring them back together.

Danny Stack's film also highlights another interesting disconnect: between the participants in the drama and the viewer. With its ominous score, and creepy woodland shots, and other similar horror iconography (Freddy in the shadows, hood up, watching as his mother smokes post-coitally), the audience is primed for horror. The characters world is, however, distinctly humdrum. The bite Freddy has suffered is from a neighbour's dog. His father is more interested in having his tea than taking his son straight to the hospital (we might know how bad the bite really is, but they do not, which might lead one to think Freddy's parents uncaring). The Doctor, played by Peter Landi, thinks it might be an adverse reaction to the tetanus shot. Everybody, perhaps even Freddy, remain convinced that the origin of this 'disease' is human and react accordingly. It is the viewer that is a step ahead, awaiting the cataclysm that is going to fall, for the monster that Freddy will become to arise.

By foregrounding the human drama in this way, Danny Stack is able to make the horror more vital. Shock jumps, the staple of horror film, work only if you care for the characters. By the end of these disturbing fifteen minutes you have become involved in the lives of this family, you have been moved by the father's speech about his son's birth, have seen that this couple, whatever their problems, do have love for one another. The cumulative effect of this is to make the end all the more brutal.

Danny Stack has admitted that Origin is the basis for a feature film he hopes to make, and it is true that this short has the feel of a pilot, or the first act of something larger, but it does not negate the power or impact that this award-winning short has. As a calling card, this is fine film-making.

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