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Short Film Review: “Not Him”: A Gripping Exploration of Domestic Struggle and Survival.



In Sarah Young‘s short film “Not Him,” audiences are plunged into the seemingly troubled ‘perfect lives’ of a young couple Michelle and John.

John has suddenly become strange and violent and Michelle believes that he might be possessed but no one seems to believe her. She must now face the daunting task of getting her friend to believe her so that she can be helped. 

Tori Ernst plays the character Michelle in “Not Him.” In her first few minutes on screen, Ernst skillfully conveys Michelle‘s inner turmoil through her demeanour and posture. Michelle refuses to embrace her situation as a victimCategories; instead, she courageously strives to convince others that John‘s behavior has undergone a disturbing transformation, signalling a change that she struggles to comprehend.

Charlie McElveen‘s portrayal of John is equally compelling, seamlessly transitioning between the facade of normalcy and the chilling intensity of his character’ when possessed. The chemistry between Ernst and McElveen adds a layer of authenticity to their onscreen relationship, heightening the emotional stakes of the narrative.

Supporting performances, particularly by Katharine Chin as Michelle’s concerned friend Kim and Ryan Nicholas Cooper as Kim’s husband Joe, provide a necessary contrast to the central drama. Chin‘s portrayal of a loyal friend grappling with disbelief adds depth to the film’s exploration of trust and perception.

The visuals aptly complement the film’s genre, particularly in Michelle and John’s home. The chosen angles convey a sense of entrapment, evoking the feeling that they are both ensnared in a situation from which escape is not easily achieved. This sensation isn’t just seen, it is felt.

The film’s writer and director Sarah Young demonstrates a keen understanding of pacing and tension, drawing audiences into the story from the opening scenes. The concise runtime of 14 minutes is utilized to maximum effect, with each moment serving to propel the narrative forward. However, while the film’s briefness contributes to its intensity, you are sure to find yourself craving additional exposition and clarity regarding John‘s possession and the obsession with Michelle

Unfortunately, the climax of the film leaves audiences with more questions than answers. The fate of John and Michelle remains uncertain: Will they both emerge unscathed or is this the end for one or both of them? Can John break free from the malevolent force that possesses him? These lingering uncertainties add to the film’s haunting atmosphere and leave you wanting more long after the credits roll.

Despite this minor flaw, “Not Him” succeeds in delivering a powerful message about the complexities of domestic violence and the importance of believing survivors. It also highlights the importance of female friendships as a vital support system in the battle against and exposure of cycles of abuse.

Young‘s adept direction, coupled with strong performances and atmospheric visuals, creates an immersive viewing experience that lingers long after the credits roll. I will score this short 3.5 out of 5 stars

In the end, you would find that “Not Him” is a gripping short film that deftly navigates themes of trust, perception, and survival. If Sarah Young chooses to expand this short into a feature film, it has the potential to captivate audiences on an even larger scale, cementing its status as a standout entry in the psychological thriller genre.

Second on my list of addictions is Movies.. the only thing I could possibly love more is my Dearest Waakye lol. Nothing else does a better job of reminding me that ANYTHING is possible with the right amount of effort. I have great eye for details and flaws in scripts. Shallow scripts bore me. I am an avid reader. Your everyday Mr Nice guy. Always the last to speak in a room full of smart people. Half Human, half Martian but full MOVIE FREAK.

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