After writing about independent cinema for ten years or better, one would think that I would become rather jaded whenever coming across well made films put together by younger talent, but I am still constantly impressed by some of the submissions that come from these very young artists. In many ways, Obscurity certainly shows a lack of maturity. These are elements that will be talked about shortly, but for all of its narrative problems, it makes up for much of this with technical wizadry and passion for the subject mater.
Obscurity is the story of three brothers, and the way violence impacts their life. Our main protagonist is 15 year old Josh (played by writer/director George Grant) who is bullied , alongside his younger brother, by the eldest within this trio. While Josh attempts to put things together at home, he finds even more violence waiting for him outside of his doorstep. A local gang continually harasses him, and between all of the antagonism being hurled in his direction, it only seems a matter of time before Josh snaps.
From the very opening minutes of the film, where we see the flashy logo for Ninety8 Films, audiences can see the adept hand of these filmmakers. Using every tool at their disposal, George Grant and his crew craft a very slick looking film. Combined with this are some solid performances that point to great things from this group. As the movie rolls along, Grant develops a story that branches into several areas that are unexpected and actually doe service to many of the genres that the film tries to emulate. With some decent fight choreography and an action-filled final few minutes, Grant is about as ambitious as they come.
Unfortunately, the movie is not perfect. There are some definite issues to be sorted out regarding the intense melodrama brought up during the movie. Things get laid on thick during the earliest scenes within the movie, and the intensity gets dialed up more and more as the plot progresses. This “starting off at a peak” mentality becomes a problem for the movie, as much of the plot deals with the dramatic tension that is already built in and doesn’t focus on creating the drama. So, the movie throws its audience head-first into this world, and sometimes the results work and sometimes they do not. For instance, after the character of Josh runs afoul of the main gang within the movie, he starts to fear for his life. He, and others, treat the gang as if they are homicidal lunatics rather than a gang of punks. During the final minutes of the film, we do find out that the gang carry knives and guns with them, but up until that big reveal, it seems as if the main characters are overreacting to this threat. The establishment of their threat is missing, as are some other key elements within the movie (the foundation of the three brothers and their relationship could have certainly been focused on more), but the enthusiasm of the cast and the grand experimentation of the movie makes everything seem manageable.
While Obscurity certainly has some issues, I can’t stress enough about the talent that is visible within this young crew. They have done tremendous work with Obscurity and they are on the path towards making some genuinely great cinema. This is one that is certainly worth seeking out. You can watch the short feature for yourself as it is available currently on YouTube at the 9eight Films YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcFPK0ni4Yg