Feature film review
Shadows In Mind
Written by: Mark Schwab | Directed by: Mark Schwab | Genre: Thriller | Length: 92 minutes
Schwab and his team provide another great example of why independent film a great art to champion.
Told in a series of flashbacks, "Shadows In Mind" sets itself up to be the nightmare of any crisis hotline operator. We're introduced to Simon (Corey Jackson) who works the night shift manning the phone, and looking bored as hell. It's totally understandable that the bulk of inbound calls are not from people in dire need. It's implied that Simon's job mainly consists of talking to the lonely, or sometimes even "those" people, who feel the service is just begging to be prank called. This implication is solidified with the mention of a twenty minute time limit for callers. Unless it's believed the call is an "actual" emergency. As to be expected, Simon's boredom is short lived when a call from Danny (Christian Gabriel) comes through. He claims to be about to commit suicide, and very quickly, Simon takes this particular caller seriously, and sets about doing his intended job. Saving a life. In this case, maybe even more than one.
"Shadows In Mind" is built around the premise of atmosphere creation. This isn't a "guns-a-blazing" trip to the cinema experience. Mark Schwab doesn't jump from point A to point Z at lightning speed, like so many indie directors before him. There is no fear of boring out the audience here. Schwab feels confident enough to tell his story at his own pace, allowing "Shadows" to slowly gain momentum until the final scenes. It's not a perfect delivery, as the film does have a negligible amount of drag. Thankfully, these slightly long feeling scenes serve a purpose. There is a method to the madness, that helps achieve the atmospheric goals of the production; and it's that very atmosphere that sets this film apart from so many others. Once you're buckled in for the entire film, you end up appreciating Danny's story. You also end up appreciating the real life role of a crisis operator. A job that must really be tough on the mind, when you consider the emotional impact a valid call could have for the person manning the phone. "Shadows" does a wonderful job illustrating this, reminding us unconsciously, that so many people really need this type of service. It's not always about the ones you lose. It's more about the ones you save.
When processing your thoughts on a particular film, you always need to consider the effort that went into the production. Especially when the production is "micro" in nature. How well were shots thought out? Was the budget considered when planning the best course of action? Is the film the equivalent of a flash in the pan? Were gimmicks in place to hide a shoddy story? To answer these questions lets talk about the actual style of "this" movie. It's a slow burner for sure, but was that on purpose? I think so. There's a great balance of those wide shots we all associate with higher budgets, and the closer ones that add a very claustrophobic feeling to some of the scenes. It's a great mix to add a sense of tension on one hand, and the visual stimulation to keep us going through the slower segments. Something I think Mark Schwab kept in mind when creating his movie. Aside from some outstanding performances from Jackson and Gabriel, Pano Tsaklas as Danny's new boyfriend Kyle also delivered the goods as a somewhat mysterious, yet driven man. Rounding off the main cast are an excellent group of supporting members. Let me just write that without a talented team supporting the leading men, there would be no way for them to shine. I found no issue with the performances from anyone. A huge "plus" in my books.
So it all comes down to what I got out of this movie. Was I a "Bored Billy" just waiting for the credits to finally appear? Not at all. "Shadows In Mind" not only has an interesting story to tell, but a writer and director not afraid to tell it the way he wanted. The end result is a film that not only looks larger than an indie micro film, but feels that way as well. Schwab and his team provide another great example of why independent film a great art to champion. Now, since those credits have long since rolled out, I guess it's time to boot up windows solitaire.
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