Playing with Ice (2013) – By Philip Smolen

Free spirited but lonely Jocelyn (Laura Menzie) is interviewing for a strange new position at the Heri-Tech Company. She’s being interviewed by Emma (Kate Paulsen), a prim and proper employee. But from the moment Jocelyn steps into Emma’s office, things get strange. First the door automatically locks. Then Emma starts asking probing and personal questions. What’s even worse is that every few minutes a loud buzzer sounds that makes Jocelyn jump. It’s all part of the interview process, Emma assures Jocelyn. You see the position she is applying for is vitrification subject. That means that she will be frozen for the next 200 years! So that is why the interview process is so different. In fact it’s so different that all of Jocelyn’s emotional barricades crumble and she begins telling Emma all about the roller coaster ride her life has been. But, strangely, rather than abruptly end the interview and show Jocelyn the door, Emma also opens up about her life. You see she’s also suffered great emotional upheaval as well. And from that moment, a new door opens for both women.

“Playing with Ice” is a new 18 minute short film from writer/director Mikel J. Wisler and it’s an intriguing and intimate look at the breaking down of barriers and of giving life another chance. Shot in one room with just two actresses Wisler takes a real risk with his film, but the appealing performances by Laura Menzie and Kate Paulsen as well as the film’s honesty are original and captivating. I couldn’t take my eyes off of either actress and was fascinated how Wisler’s script used the sci-fi premise as a mechanism to break down the inhibitions of both characters. Without realizing that they are doing it, both women drop their shields and begin communicating with each other and establish a powerful emotional connection.

This is a wonderful and satisfying short that speaks volumes about what we hold inside and the damage it causes. Wisler has made a life-affirming and nifty pseudo sci-fi movie all at the same time. Bravo!

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