By Kevin Woodley (@kev_woodley)
I was never bored, which can only be a good thing. I don’t mind saying that I’m late to the Indie scene and so as this was my first real dive into watching a short film critically, there was a level of anxiety before the film started. I needed it be good. Lucky for me, and everyone else, Director Emily Moss Wilson delivers a resourceful, twisty, twenty-minute affair that left me wanting more for all the right reasons. I didn’t read too much into the film before viewing, going purely from the title Drink and an air of expectation that things might get weird. And they did. And it was a wonderful surprise. The film leads you into thinking it’s a standard, maybe creepy, horror affair before shifting into something more meaningful and smart.
There’s always the worry that because it’s an independent film the budget will show horribly. However, it never really crossed my mind here. This is partly due to the commanding lead from Austin Highsmith as troubled mother ‘Alice’ and partly due to the solid, layered writing – for the most part. Highsmith carries the film very well and the film strengthened whenever she was the focus on-screen. At first she convinces as the over-used archetype of a mother fleeing a dark past for the better of her children, before revealing a nature that carries the film down a far more interesting path – paying tribute to the Twilight Zone label the film openly adopts. Sadly, I think the film played it too safe with regards to the children, which fall into the stereotyped children of many stories; a scared, innocent child overpowered by their brattish sibling. It doesn’t harm the film but it would have been refreshing see the children more creatively written and with a greater depth that ‘Alice’ is shown. Obviously, I’m not going to hammer away at a young cast, because they did what was asked of them. They played their roles without a problem. The problem is that these roles occupy every area of film today. And the older brother ‘Clint’ is mostly written into a corner of resentment, with younger brother ‘Billy’ offering obvious contrast. It works, I just don’t think it’s nearly as interesting as ‘Alice’s’ character arc.
The excellent musical score from Joseph Trapanese & Jason Lazarus also goes a way to elevating this short above your standard low-budget affair. With a piano melody showing hints of ‘Tubular Bells’ used in careful spurts to let you know things are escalating, the film never feels slow, resulting in a perfectly paced story that shows little slack.
Whether you’re a fan of the Twilight Zone, which Drink pays a respectful tribute to, or simply looking for an entertaining horror/mystery to spend a short time with, you should come out the other side feeling presently surprised. At 20 odd minutes, Drink is worth anybody’s time, and I’m thrilled to have been introduced to it. If Emily Moss Wilson can continue her projects in the form of these intriguing, half-hour episodic stories, then the future could be exciting. Drink puts those rushed, unloved, feature-length films that find their way onto the late night slot of television to shame. I’d much rather sit down for 20 minutes and have a story deliver than watch a 90 minute uneven mess made for the sole purpose of money.
Director: Emily Moss Wilson, Starring: Austin Highsmith, Nolan Gross, Noah Swindle, Jake Muxworthy, Carter Jenkins, Virginia Tucker, Ron Harper, Writer: Emily Moss Wilson + Larry Soileau
Watch the film on YouTube.