Friends and Family (2020) [Mattos Films]
Overall Rating (1-10): 8.5
Country: USA/ Running Time: 7 minutes / MPAA Rating: N/R
Director: Barbara Toschi
Distributed by: Lindsey Productions
Plot Synopsis: In an emotional letter, Anastacia points out everyone’s attitude that directly or indirectly allowed her to be sexually assaulted. Now, she takes the final step to fight against it.
Dear Friends and Family begins with a man entering a dark house, calling out for someone who does not answer. As he grabs a drink from the fridge and wanders his empty house, a disgruntled expression shows his disinterest, perhaps with himself and his surroundings. The camera pans to a letter propped up by his sink, where a girl’s voice (Anastacia) begins to coolly narrate the contents in a desultory fashion. The girl begins explaining her sympathies for those reading the letter, as she expresses that the contents will be chilling and horrific. While she is beginning her story, the man notices the letter lying on his counter and begins to read for himself. The viewer starts to glimpse flashbacks into Anastacia’s nightmare: countless memories from where she was abused by a cruel man. While these flash on the screen, she exposes the narrative that her friends allowed this to happen, pushing her and her abuser to be together, belittling the single life, and by insisting she was too sensitive. She clues in the information that her abuser was married, and as she exposes this, the man reading the letter tellingly glances to a picture on his fridge, of him at his wedding. As the viewer gets their first clue as to who this man may actually be, he continues to read on, to view the raw pain that is written in the black letters on the page.
As her abuser is relentless in pursuit, you see Anastacia dial 999 into her mobile, yet then erase it tragically as her confidence withers and the voices tell her to keep quiet, that she is shameful and must not say anything. Flashbacks continue to penetrate the screen, adding to the visual narrative of the nightmare that controlled her life. As she quits her job where her abuser was present, she claims it was all futile, as he still followed her: the memories were inexorable, she could not escape them. The ending will be kept a secret so as not to spoil the final, climatic moment.
All throughout the short film, the music contributes to the ominous atmosphere, adding an element of foreboding and terror. The circulation of flashbacks and the man reading the letter creates an enthralling effect, pulling the viewer into the story. The surroundings of the man manifest itself into his character: the lights are dim, the house empty. As the letter continues to be read, a darkness perpetrates the atmosphere, enticing the viewer into knowing an ending is approaching with a chilling narrative. This short film shines with the effects of the music and lighting, which continue to astonish with subtle fragility. A complete story is able to be told quickly, within the 7 minutes, as the coupled flashbacks tell the story well and the ending pulls everything into a full circle. Adam Lannon and Lara Gallagher both weave an exciting story to life, fueling the electric current of a tragic past that unfortunately circles so many. The realistic point of view and the undercurrent of horror touching the surface makes this short film a must see.
You can watch the film here: