Thursday, January 4, 2018

Short Film Review: The Defector (2017)

Menacing. If The Defector was any single emotion, it would be pure, unfiltered sense of menace. Like a bus with that might or might not carry a suicide bomber, this short film expertly racks up the tension without doing too much. Instead, it allows its conflicting ideas to battle between each other in the mind of the viewer, while it desperately tries to latch onto some character. Who is justified in his action and who is the real menace? Defector leaves the audience guessing as the story quickly moves through its plot. 

The film follows the real-life figure of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt as he engages with his security chiefs about the Reds, individuals suspected of working against the state. However, Holt has his own agenda and begins to explore one of the secret treads, culminating in a single night of dangerous confrontation, which the film depicts.

Created by Scott Mannion, the film shows the power of a precisely executed thriller, combined with a modest layer of science fiction. As the film unravels, this layer begins to fill up, but still thankfully remains neither naive nor pretentious. On the other hand, the visual style of Defector, like its superb cast, especially Sean Taylor as Holt, is spot on. The decor and fashion of 1960’s offer a great backdrop to the mystery of the real life death of this figure.


All of these elements resemble movies like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, telling a story of incredibly dangerous men who decide the fate of the world and still manage to look like everyday bureaucrats. These gray and almost faceless persons (even though this changes later on as well) are ideal personification of this menace.

There is no doubt that Mannion possesses some serious cinematographic talent and potentially someone who can join people like David Michôd and Zak Hilditch. I hope he gets a chance to try this as soon as possible.

Watch the Defector in full right here:

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