“It’s been done before.”
That’s one of the lines said by a character in part 1 of this short film. This is a story that centers around a young woman named Paige (Angel Brazier) and her friends Christian (Braeden Baade) & Anderson (Benjamin Myers) they run a sort of documentary unit for a reality show or maybe its a web series I’m not exactly sure as I think it’s kept ambiguous intentionally. It’s the retort to the idea of investigating urban legends, and much like this short all of it has been done before. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though.
Paige decides that the group needs to investigate a New York urban legend about a man born on June 6th, 1966, one character ponders if he was born at 6pm, but it doesn’t really matter right? I mean at that point you’re really splitting demonic hairs. The group decides to of course go an investigate this warehouse where he lives, and I won’t spoil what happens next but it sets up a fairly intriguing premise. The problem I have with this short is it ends just as it’s getting interesting.
I understand that sometimes shorts are used to tease larger concepts, series and or feature length ventures but you can’t just give people a first act of a story and expect them to be satisfied. I found the script to be decent, it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel but instead plays it safe with classic tropes. That’s fine, but if that’s going to happen then there needs to be a bit more of an x factor to it’s appeal.
Hilton Ariel Ruiz who wrote, directed and produced part 1 shows off some potential in terms of weaving interesting concepts and also creating engaging concepts but the direction of Ruiz falls flat at times. The characters have no real personality and they come off wooden and detached from the events happening around them. Myers who I believe plays the boom operator is probably the strongest, but the characters believability never really came through for me.
The music from Tim Starnes and the editing from Doug Forbes are done well and add to the atmosphere of the short but the cinematography from Kanyarat Rodhatbhai as well as the sound design/mixing from Thiago Tiberio is stand out. There are some good pieces here but the story needs to really follow a true 3 act structure even if it is meant to be split up into several parts. And Ruiz needs to improve directing actors’ motivations and dialect to sound and feel more natural. There are far worse horror shorts you can watch and this one is only 8 minutes long, so it may be worth a look if you’re a genre fan or just want to see an exercise of good sound and picture. That being said this short leaves a lot to be desired.
Part 2 of Hilton Ariel Ruiz’s “6-6-66” is called “The Uknown” and plays like an episode of Tales from the Darkside as a photographer (Robert Galinsky) takes two pretty models (Brookelyn Kelly & Sarah Johnson) into an abandoned building to snap sexy photos to a more eerie backdrop. I obviously don’t have to tell you what happens next.
Unlike Part 1 the acting in Part 2 is a lot stronger, Galinsky doesn’t play his photographer as too much of a sleezebag and doesn’t make him cartoonish. I’ve met several glamour model photographers in my time and they usually are pretty stand up guys so it was refreshing to see one portrayed on screen who was a bit tamer. The two models played by Kelly and Johnson do a good job as well of switching back and forth between striking poses and also cautiously venturing further into the creepy building. It helped me care about the characters’ fates as the story progressed.
There is a lot of nice editing going on in this done by Doug Forbes from part 1 but now with the added roles of Claudio Pena and Matthew Adrian Gonzales in the edit bay. Here they generally seamlessly mix photos footage together to make a story and build tension. The only misstep they make is the incredibly pointless fade out from photos to “real time” footage that makes no sense. I know it sounds like I’m being nit picky but fade outs are generally really tacky transitions in film. The music from David Bateman is serviceable as is the cinematography from Claudio Pena.
Like Part 1 however this short still leaves much to be desired. There is a lot of great build for what ends up being an anti climatic ending and while as a red blooded male I wasn’t complaining about getting to see Kelly and Johnson pose for the camera the filmmakers probably stay on those more tantalizing aspects of the short for far too long as we all came to see the horror aspect of the short. That’s less a criticism as it is a note for Ruiz and the editing team to look out for next time. As easily a minute could have been shaved off of this total runtime.
While superior to part 1 I still feel like there are a lot of pieces missing here with part 2 “The unknown” I hope that this series starts to really improve and it’s biggest problem still comes with not having a true act structure. Here we do get the beginning of a 2ndÊact but it get deflated quickly and then the credits roll. If Ruiz’s goal is to lure me into watching more he’s going to have to take a note from the photographer in this film and “go deeper.”