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Payload (2011)

 -  Short | Drama | Sci-Fi
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 77 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 1 critic

A family of scavengers. A corrupt spaceport. A callous matriarch. A home in the shadow of a space elevator. After a brutal attack on his father, Simon Carter must sacrifice everything to save his family.



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Credited cast:
Deng Abul ...
Gate Security Guard
Ryan Beard ...
Aaron Henshaw
Khrob Edmonds ...
Dr. William Pratchett
Sepideh Fallah ...
TNSA Officer
Roshan Johal ...
Head of Security
CTA Suit
Adam Carter
Joanne Owen-Smith ...
Officer Kate Henshaw
Margaret Rivette ...
Dave Carter
Dylan Russell ...
Simon Carter


A family of scavengers. A corrupt spaceport. A callous matriarch. A home in the shadow of a space elevator. After a brutal attack on his father, Simon Carter must sacrifice everything to save his family.

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User Reviews

Good concept and I guess it is good to be left wanting more
5 March 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

You do have to admire the vision of some short film makers; although the short running time, the lower budget and the host of restrictions and limits it is positive to see creative types tackling big, global stories particularly in the sci-fi genre. That is the case here where in the future a poor family in Australia where the rich now seem to live off the surface and those left below are subject to controls and struggle to get by however they can. Young women are prized as they fetch a good price, with smuggling of goods or humans or anything also helps people get by. When the father of the family is hurt, truths come out that will see his eldest son forced to make some tough decisions to make the best of a terrible possible future.

It is true that the best sci-fi stories are not about how cool you can make your special effects look, but rather how good the story is at the core (which you can then support with effects in service of plot). That is the backbone of Payload because we have a family and we understand the pressure on them and the sacrifices to be made, even if we do not fully understand the world that is causing them to have this situation. The effects are sparsely used but the production standards are still pretty high, with good use of locations and "look" to create a futuristic feel but not to the point that it really strains the short and starts to show.

The problem however is that the limits of the short do limit the story. OK we get a tale that does have a start and an end if you look at precisely what it is doing, but it is still a story with a huge amount going on around it and in a way it is slightly frustrating to have your eyes so focused on the specifics here and not be allowed to look a little to the left and to the right at the same time. That said, as a story it is still engaging and has a good heart at the centre of it. The performances are perhaps not all they could have been and they vary from the "bit too soapy" to the "bit too deliberately stern", a minor complaint perhaps, but they are characters/performances and they don't totally convince even in the context of the Payload world.

It is still worth a look for what it does well though and it is almost an unavoidable downside of such ambitious short films is that the whole story will never get told within them and to be fair it is probably a good thing to leave the viewer wanting more since some of your target viewers will be production companies.

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