In the world of short films, many are watched and quickly forgotten as a glimpse in a filmmaker’s vision as a step toward a feature film. “Bullified” is a terrific example of a short film that sticks with the viewer, and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t shake it. A hot topic in today’s political and educational climate- bullying- is the central focus in a story of a grown man’s conversation with his psychologist as he works through being accused of the murders of those he had victimized as a youth.
With a vastly experienced cast and crew, the film has a dark tone that carries through, mainly shouldered by the character of Riley Samuel (played enigmatically by Russ Camarda). As a recently reformed con, Samuel sought forgiveness and retribution from his childhood victims, as well as an answer to what pushed the envelope for him and led him down the path of aggression and bullying. After his meetings with his past victims, they were murdered, most of them not allowing Samuel the answers he craved. Serving mostly as a conduit for Samuel’s soul-searching after his imprisonment, Staci Brennan (Katherine Barron), maintains a straight face through Samuel’s mental walk down the dark alley, during which he fully maintains his innocence. The twist comes somewhat unexpectedly, and pulls the morality of bullying into a grey area of what constitutes a bully.
With an astounding production value, this short film shows the best amongst independent short films. Being shot on a RED, the cinematography is pristine, but maintains a gritty overlay as flashbacks of Samuel take him to his victim’s homes and businesses. The massive undertaking of organization is visibly prevalent throughout the mass amount of locations, the production design, and the overall look and sound of the film. Within a few minutes of the film, the passion about the subject matter is obvious, and the friendship of those involved is blatant. At times, the acting comes across a slight dry, but that comes with the nature of exposition. With the film starting production in January, and the release date was set for May, it is a testament to the dedication of the cast and crew to complete the feat of this involved short film in a short amount of time.
At the end of the day, the line that cannot be shaken resonates: “Bullying is bred, its not born”.