If I had to give a brief idea of what Familiar is about without giving away too much, I'd say that an average family man named John is plagued by his inner thoughts as he continually acts to deceive and eventually break free from his family. However, John soon comes to realize that his inner demons are far more tangible than expected.
A majority of the movie is told through a dark, and tonal inner monologue by actor Robert Nolan. This is what truly makes the film. Nolan delivers an excellent performance, portraying a character who has grown tired of his routine life, and utterly has reached a point of despising his wife and daughter. This movie in some respects, whether they would admit it or not, could probably relate to family men who have faced the rigors of a mundane work and home routine. There are also segments of course where conversations take place between the actors, but still these show the strong abilities of Nolan.
Astrida Auza and Cathryn Hostick give great performances as the members of John's immediate family, but Nolan again excels by displaying an unenthusiastic, deceivingly loving father/husband. The shift from the dark and unforgiving John to the disconnected and forcefully caring patriarch is great to see. At times it is even draining to see just how truly miserable he is.
Another major plus for this movie is the self-focused horror. Where many famous movies portray vengeful slashers or heartless monsters, others appeal to true fear in facing one's own darkest demons. For John, this is quite literal. As he eventually starts to resist his dark urges, his inner voice starts to manifest in other ways.
Without spoiling, I will say that some portions of Familiar are going to be divisive. I find that there are many camps of horror fans. And for most, the realms of psychological horror and more visceral, gory horror do not coincide. This is a unique factor in Familiar. It is a movie that collectively concerns a man battling his own emotions and captivity due to familial responsibilities, but leads into something more physical. The final moments are infinitely gorier than the opening half of the movie seems to lead to.
On the basis of gore, I can only say that some horror fans may not appreciate the sights and may not care for the final moments. Based on a well-rounded horror fan who can appreciate the effects though, the scene is done particularly well. The body horror is obscene, but not to a level of sheer ridiculousness. The blood is convincing, and Nolan continues to nail his performance. His cringing and self determination throughout, despite staunch opposition by his inner voice serves well to build up to a fantastic finale.
To any film fans that are hesitant to see gore, all I can really say is that ignoring this short film would be an injustice. I'd encourage you to tough it out. This film has so much to offer in terms of acting, production, and special effects.
In terms of short films, I believe there are indie gems out there which are consistently overlooked. This movie is towards the upper end of these gems, and I'd encourage any horror fan to check it out. Especially if you are a fan of psychologically driven plots, and a bit of cringe worthy moments.
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