Downward (2011) – By Josh Samford

As someone who has been surrounded by those caught up in the adversity of drug addiction, it doesn’t take much for me to sympathize with the plight of those who are trapped in this world. I have seen lives ripped apart, and I think the majority of those who will read this at least have one family member or friend who has suffered a similar fate. It almost seems as if our culture has become synonymous with addiction in all facets of our regular life. However, the key to any sense of adversity is understanding. Downward is both an understanding portrayal of addiction, as well as a condemnation of the attitudes that inevitably lead human beings to becoming creatures of pure selfishness..

Aaron (Alex Hernandez ) is a heroin addict who is dangerously close to hitting bottom. Kicked out of the house by his parents, he has recently found refuge with his girlfriend Rachel (Morgan Vasquez). Aaron and Rachel have had a tumultuous relationship since he moved in, however, because he hasn’t contributed any money for the bills and regularly steals from Rachel’s purse. When she feels that she has finally had enough, Rachel kicks Aaron out. Feeling rejected, Aaron tries his best to score a dose off of his dealer, but finds that he is too far in debt with him. When Aaron burns yet another bridge, he is eventually shot by this same dealer. What follows is an obscure series of dream realities that may or may not be happening.

Director Jon Reino takes his film in several different directions during its very brief seventeen minute running time. Showcasing a knack for drama, the confrontations between the characters of Aaron and Rachel make for some of the most dynamic sequences in the film. Although some scenes are performed better than others, generally whenever Morgan Vasquez and Alex Hernandez are on screen together they are delivering beyond expectations. The trip that the film makes into the surreal, during the final half, is really where the film becomes something extraordinary though. Catching the viewer off guard, this bizarre series of twists and turns is both puzzling and stunning.

Although not an entirely perfect film, Downward is both confrontational and addictive. I am certainly interested in seeing what the director might be capable of in the future. His keen eye for the visual constantly keeps this short engaging, and the dramatic twist in the bizarre separates this one from a crowd. If you come across the film, I would certainly recommend giving it a watch. You can read more about the movie through its official IMDB page.