A good short film is a tricky thing to make. If you’re going for something with a linear narrative, many of the same rules from feature length films do apply, but you’re taking upon a much more difficult task by trying to rush everything into a much smaller space. For the most part, I run into few short films that tell their stories in a relaxed fashion and also still tell a story that will touch a wider audience. The Hidden Chapter is a short film that does liberally borrow from at least two major Hollywood productions, but it does so by incorporating only a few elements from these movies into a small story that manages to find its own foundation. Showcasing a story that resembles Silence of the Lambs, The Hidden Chapter takes this small premise and delves into many areas that the audience will hardly see coming. And yes, that means that there is a twist ending.
The Hidden Chapter tells the story of a young aspiring writer named Carissa who is given the opportunity to speak with the convicted murderer Joseph Logan. Logan was originally a writer himself and he puts up a facade of intellectualism that could easily intimidate any writer trying to get his story. Yet, despite the way that Logan attempts to pry into her private life, Carissa is intent on getting this story. This is her big break and could very well lead her to a prominent writing gig. Her mother, who feels that she is chasing a pipedream, doesn’t approve of her meeting with a convicted serial killer – but it once again shows the determination that Carissa has. Unfortunately, Logan is an intelligent man, and as he digs for more information from Carissa, it becomes obvious that he knows something that the audience doesn’t. He has something hidden, and it apparently revolves around a hidden chapter from his own book about the killings. Will Carissa find out what is inside this hidden chapter? Or will it be too late?
The first thing that jumped out to me while watching The Hidden Chapter, was how polished the movie is. Shot in a very slick manner and texturized with some fantastic color correction, The Hidden Chapter looks very slick for a twenty minute short film. Although the budgetary restraints are quite obvious, the short manages to look very nice. The acting too is quite solid for a title such as this one. Usually, low budget indie shorts feature actors who are very limited in what they are able to express, but the talents in this title are very strong. The cast often flirts with over-the-top performances, but they manage to save themselves and lure the viewer along. Indeed, the character of Logan is at times far too pretentious to be taken serious, but there is something about the way that this actor plays him that makes the dialogue seem surprisingly engaging. While audiences may become frustrated with the way his dialogue becomes exaggerated, they will still hold onto his every word and listen to the entire story as it plays out. As the plot ventures out, the intensity seems to become more and more intense.
There are only a few problems that I have with The Hidden Chapter, but they aren’t enough to deter me from recommending the short. A very well made little film with a twisted story, if it’s playing at a festival near you, it is worth checking out. To read more about the short, you can visit the official site at: http://www.rwfilmsllc.com/The_hidden_chapter.html.