Bad Things (2011) – By James Dubbeldam

Bad Things is a 7 minute short film written, produced and directed by Miles Trahan. It stars Ryan Castro and Justin Serrano as two men who drive to the forest to bury a body.
Dressed in bloody white dress shirts, the men discuss faith and redemption while they dig a grave for what appears to be a murder they have just committed.

It’s a simple short film, set on one location with only two actors, so the dialogue has to be good for it to work. And ultimately be interesting. And that it is. Trahan has created his own version of what we as an audience have witnessed many times before in many different styles. His version showcases his skills as a filmmaker.

But, when it’s such a limited film, with one location and two actors, audiences tend to pick up on mistakes quicker and not take them with a grain of salt. The reason being- if there is such a limited scope, most believe that the effort should be put into creating something realistic and believable. So when you watch the characters dig a hole and handle a dead body with no gloves, it sets off bells.

So, this being said, I fell I have to point out certain things. Not to be picky, but because if I am watching the same actors in the same location for the entire film, I am going to naturally dissect what I am watching. Not always true with “bigger” films though. I tend to let things go as I said above. In this case the filmmaker needs to make sure he/she has covered all the bases.

The first item to bring up is the location. If these men are driving into the forest to be discrete, it would be vitally important there is no one around. But when they park the car, a house can be seen close-by in the background. Secondly, the men appear to be digging the hole/grave on a dirt road, right in front of where they have parked the car. With the use of a better location and perhaps having the characters travel away from the car and road into the forest, it would be more believable and ultimately stronger.

It’s challenging to get into the dialogue when it’s clear that the actors are struggling with digging into dense, packed earth (the road). A suggestion for filmmakers- if someone in a film is digging a hole, the viewer wants to see it. See the hole being dug, see it getting deeper, etc. It creates involvement and makes you feel like you are there. When its not shown, as in this case, you feel like you are missing something which ultimately pulls you out of the story.

That being said, the acting in this film was quite good. Ryan Castro and Justin Serrano have great chemistry. They are very comfortable with each other, as you would expect from a pair who have likely just murdered someone and now disposing of the body. They feed off each other, deliver their lines with ease and interact very well.

The film itself has a very clean look. It’s professional and well-shot. The only suggestion I would have is to show the viewer what is going on at times- not just the actors and their conversation.

Very typical of independent shorts, there were a few audio issues, primarily being syncing issue at times. But otherwise there weren’t many faults to be found.

Overall, Bad Things is a simple, well-crafted short film worth watching. I believe all involved will be up to great things in the future!