Sunday, January 27, 2019

Short Film Review: Hang Up! (2018)

Watching Hang Up! is like unintentionally allowing a sense of sheer darkness to envelop you. The story of the film is concealing simple - Gary, a middle-aged man accidentally drops into the phone conversation that his wife Emelia is having with another person.

He tries to get her attention but fails, but before he can hang up, his entire day, week, month, year and even life change forever.

The movie is focused on the barest and most minimal cinematographic elements. Most of the 13-minute run time is simply the narration of the man’s wife and the other person on the line, followed by the silent’s husband’s reaction and shots of his office. Yet, saying that this mixture becomes a combustible material in the mind of the viewer is an understatement.

It’s more similar to nitroglycerin, where the viewers enter a sinister and explosive world that is on the verge of detonation. I’m amazed by the speed with which Hang Up! Defines unravel its ominous playing field. In the first 30 seconds, the short film punches hard with only one single line of dialogue uttered by Emelia. From there on, this macabre tale becomes more and more sickening and disturbing as the plot unwinds.
Richard Powell, who both write and directed the film does a marvelous job with the story tension and the buildup of something I can only describe as evil and engulfing energy coming from one of the characters. Powell even uses the non-present characters, like the young daughter of the couple who is only referenced and shown in the pictures at Gary’s desk. After a few minutes of her first mention, she is as much a part of the film as the shocked Gary and unseen Emelia.

It should be also noted that the cast also does a very commendable job. Robert Nolan performs his numb role perfectly, while the voices of Astrida Auza and Jane Pokou provide the ideal setup for his silent descent into real-life hell. As this dark tale turns even darker, and the music and sounds signal a terrible end to it all, the audience is left enthralled by the immense, but believable and oddly mundane horror of it all. Hang Up! is an exceptional short film and one of the best such films I saw in the previous year.