Code 72 (2012) – By Cary Conley

Mia is a lovely young lady with more than a little tragedy in her life. When still a child, she lost her mother to a horrific car accident, and now her sister’s crazy boyfriend, Manny, has killed her father because she spurned his advances. Mia goes after Manny and manages to take out his three friends, but in the ensuing chaos Manny manages to incapacitate her with a bullet to the chest. Not content to merely take her life, he also takes her heart, reminding her, "I told you…your heart was mine!" But Mia–sans heart–has come back for one last measure of revenge against her killer.

Code 72 is a unique and surreal film short (running less than 10 minutes), directed by Rod Lopez, founder of New Style Independent Pictures out of Baltimore, Maryland. The story unfolds in a nonlinear narrative structure (think Quentin Tarantino) jumping between past and present. This nonlinear structure is also aided by the fact that Mia’s memories are depicted between the main action sequences. The story is a bit confusing on first viewing, but becomes more clear on a second viewing. Actually, I must compliment Mr. Lopez for his smart storytelling and for not pandering to the audience by trying to explain storylines too clearly. Too many of today’s directors don’t give the audience enough credit and cannot resist the temptation to beat the audience over the head with dull explanations, but not Lopez. He assumes his audience is smart enough to connect the (admittedly tenuous) dots in his film and I find that quite refreshing.

Cinematography is a high point in the film short as well, with Lopez emphasizing his cool style with several short slow-motion scenes as well as a short time lapse montage as Manny exits the barn in which he killed Mia. The music, while simple and fairly straightforward, suits each scene perfectly and adds to the tension in the action scenes. The few special effects are quite good, with the highlight being the removal of a very realistic heart from Mia’s chest. While bloody, Lopez doesn’t sink to the level of a gross-out scene, electing to cut to a reaction shot for the actual removal of the organ before getting a nice close-up of the heart in Manny’s hand. The small amount of digital work on the film–mostly limited to blood splatters from gunshot wounds–is very good as well, though there is one effect that doesn’t quite come off as well as it should have.

Lopez himself plays the psychopathic Manny, and he looks the part with clean-shaven head, dark sunglasses, and black clothing. Lopez does a good job of portraying a man full of anger and arrogance. For her part, Ivelisse Torres also does well as the film’s star, Mia. She exhibits a nice range of emotions and is especially good in a tender scene as she talks with her father about the night her mother died.

The film ends with a cliffhanger as Manny and Mia speed toward each other in their separate vehicles. "To be continued" is scrolled onto the screen as the picture fades to black just before the vehicles collide. Lopez is hoping to create a full-length version of Code 72 (police jargon for a "gun involved" incident), and I wish him luck in this endeavor as I, for one, would love to see a more fully developed story. This short hit all the right spots and left me intrigued, full of questions, and hoping for more. Code 72 isn’t available for public viewing yet, but for more information about the film or to view the scene with Mia and her father, go to http://newstyleip.com/2012/03/27/scene-from-code-72.