Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #392
Number of Views: Two
Release Date: October 30, 2014 (USA)
Sub-Genre: Supernatural, Mystery
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 11 minutes
Director: Jeremiah Kipp
Producers: Joseph Fiorillo, Jeremiah Kipp, Lauren Rayner
Screenplay: Joseph Fiorillo
Cinematography: Brian Dilg
Sound Design: Roman Chimienti
Editing: Ben Jurin
Studio: Lauren Rayner Productions
Stars: Lukas Hassel, Robin Rose Singer, Cristina Doikos, Lauren Fox
Suggested Audio Candy
I have always taken great comfort from strangers. When my father died, almost a decade ago now, I mourned in a completely different way from my three sisters. I disconnected; possibly because this stopped me hurting any more than was absolutely necessary. By that I mean that some of us aren’t necessarily equipped to take on the pain of those around us. Not because we are uncaring, on the contrary, we care a lot. It’s just that for us the idea of sitting around with loved ones trying to make sense of something that we feel like we understand a little too well can be too much. When this happened, and my whole world collapsed in on itself in an instant, I just felt numb to my very core. Thus, I confided in somebody I barely knew, an online acquaintance who lived a fair drive away, made that journey, and, in the moment where she cradled me in her arms, felt like I had located the only safe haven on earth.
It has fascinated me ever since and recently the same thing happened once again, albeit in less devastating circumstances. I had just scribed an introspective piece called Comfortably Numb and, at the time, felt as though the darkness had crept in where I had assumed it to be long behind me. I bled my sorrow out onto the page and bleed is a word which I find overused and not always applicable to creative writing per se, at least not in a literal sense. This time; it fitted. I bled, nay gushed, until it appeared that my quill was all out of crimson. Minutes afterwards I posted it; no audio, only a single visual, and as every bit as raw as it needed to be. I received several comments on Comfortably Numb but one in particular really struck a chord. It was the very first interaction from somebody who, until that point, was totally oblivious to me. A stranger if you like. The love and support of those I frequent communication with was critical of course and I re-read their messages regularly. But I needed somebody to step out of the shadows and offer me what nobody else could at that juncture. The words “I believe in you” carry more weight than you could possibly fathom when delivered by an ambiguous source. Indeed they were the reason I didn’t capitulate.
So I’m going to throw you a curveball right now and talk about something seemingly unrelated. Time. How long does it take to make a point, to tell a tale, to touch one’s soul? Recently I discovered that two minutes wasn’t out of the question when happening across a short film which I have now viewed around fifty times and never once do I make it through its fleeting duration without feeling a twinge deep in my abdomen. The short in question was Alone, narrated beyond masterfully by one of the finest voice actors of our time, Adam Ginsberg, and directed by a gentleman who many of you may be unfamiliar with, Jeremiah Kipp. While there is air in my lungs; I will see that that changes. You see, Jeremiah need no longer be a stranger.
The reason why Kipp’s name may not be on your lips at this time is that his trajectory is remarkably different from so many other adept film-makers trying to make their name in the industry right now. He is nothing short of prolific and his résumé reflects this as he has already directed 23 films in a career spanning fifteen years. However, despite being assistant director on a number of full-length features, he has carved his niche around small intimate projects which clearly have personal attachment to him. During this time, he has established himself as one of the most technically gifted professionals on the circuit and showcased his unique eye for the smallest detail, captured quite brilliantly by his inquisitive lens. His camera can supply significance to something which could otherwise be considered inconsequential and make it relevant. He’s an optical poet.
I viewed The Minions back-to-back with another of his shorts, Painkiller, and they couldn’t be more akin to chalk and cheese if they tried. My first impulse after watching Painkiller was to cry out for a full-length interpretation to sate the appetite he had whetted. Here, I felt nothing of the sort. Eleven minutes were all it required, anything more would have been simply superfluous. Where his other feature opened a can of worms and replaced the lid as if to say “that’s all you’re getting”, this was a brief encounter, passing ships in the night, a most comfortable stranger. Not that comforted would explain how I felt once it stepped back into the dark recesses a mere clutch of minutes later.
The Minions found its way beneath my skin, as did Painkiller, although in an entirely different manner from Kipp’s other short. That made itself known as it burrowed into my epidermis whereas this teased its way past security of my frontal lobe while I was unaware and continued to gestate for the hour or so that I lay awake curiously disturbed before eventually nodding off. Of the two films, and each are equally masterful examples of affecting cinema, The Minions is the stranger. It didn’t ever feel familiar, while in the precise same moment, the experience was more intimate than I could possibly have imagined given the brief time I spent in this world. Mesmerized is the word that springs to mind. Totally and unequivocally mesmerized.
Synopsis, on this occasion would be detrimental to your personal experience thus I shall leave you to have your own brief encounter. If a word of what I have said has resonated, then you’ll understand my logic in remaining vague. There may be those who will feel cheated by my lack of forthcoming detail and, to any such head scratchers, I will say this. It is beautifully shot, hauntingly seductive, stunningly played (especially by Lukas Hassel), and deeply unsettling; a true one-off and nigh-on impossible to categorize. I implore you to take a short jaunt down the witch’s path and do so without pre-formed expectation as it will invariably lead somewhere entirely different from you were expecting anyway. I don’t know about you but I take great comfort from that.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 9/10
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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