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Sunday, 4 January 2015

One Please (2014)

Director: Jesse Burks
Stars: Michael Berryman, Sailor Holland, Catherine Burks, Alan Rackley and Langston Thompson
This film was an official selection at the 10th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2014. Here's an index to my reviews of 2014 films.
One Please is a gimme for genre film festivals because it stars Michael Berryman in a role that he's able to make the most of, even though he gets very little screen time and no words. In fact, not one character has a single line of dialogue in the seven minutes this short film runs; it unfolds wordlessly but far from silently because of the excellent sound design of Dwight Chalmers. It clearly aims to evoke a particular time and place primarily through sound and it does that, so that we soon find ourselves watching through nostalgia tinted glasses. Mum's rhythmic chopping of vegetables escapes the kitchen, while dad crinkles the newspaper in the front room. Even their daughter outside skips rhythmically in the street. And then, to complete the image, the recognisable jingle of an ice cream van precedes it round the corner. What's odd is that writer/director Jesse Burks chooses to continue the wordlessness, having the hungry little girl merely tug on her mother's apron and look up at her with doe eyes. From then on, no words are needed.
So why would something as Norman Rockwell as this have a place in a horror film festival? Well, because it highlights just how much parents love their children and what the slightest little fancy might cost them, and Burks chooses to highlight that through a neatly horrific little gimmick. That little girl is pleading for change, of course, to buy the orange lolly she knows she must have, but the lack of words in this film is echoed by the lack of money, at least in the form we know. I can't say any more without descending into spoiler territory, but it does play out as simply and effectively as we might expect. There's nothing fancy going on here and, to some, the picture might seem rather empty, but if we can sit back and allow those sounds to take us back to our childhood, we might find a new perspective on when we were pleading for change like the little girl in this story. I liked this the first time I saw it and I've liked it every time since. It doesn't do much, but it does it very well and the casting is perfect, not only for Michael Berryman.

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