Entertainment aimed at children can be difficult for any adult to tackle in terms of criticism. Of course, it likely helps if you have children and you can gauge their sensibilities, find out what works for them, and try to incorporate that into you examination of the product. If you don’t have kids, which I do not, you have to reflect back to your own childhood and try to remember what worked best for you as a kid, then try to use your adult brain in order to reason out what is best and most suitable for a group of kids. It is a difficult thing for me to even write about, so one can only imagine how difficult it must be for an adult. Children’s entertainment, when done right, seems to be about finding that perfect line between playing things in a very broad manner, without actually pandering to the audience. While Through the Window isn’t exactly masterful in finding this line, it does do many things surprisingly well.
The story focuses on Zachary Kessler (played by young Ryan Vincent), an eleven year old boy who wants nothing more than to be a mystery author. Zachary’s father also happens to be a writer, and their neighbor, Mrs. Wolfe, is another acclaimed novelist. So, this young man feels that he has a lot to live up to! Early in the film Zachary and his little brother are caught snooping around Mrs. Wolfe’s home, trying to find the secret to her writing abilities, only to be busted and chastised by their father. Well, as soon as dad is gone, Zachary is right back next door. This time, he goes to check on Mrs. Wolfe after he sees a strange car pull up to the home. When he peers inside, it seems that Mrs. Wolfe has been attacked and possibly killed! Now it is up to Zachary and his younger brother to get evidence of this crime in order to report it to the proper authorities.
It isn’t often that one finds short films that are dedicated to children’s entertainment. So, this kinda makes the entire project rather interesting, solely to see how the filmmakers planned on tackling the genre. If anything, the short turns out working most appropriately as a pilot episode for a television program. Seeing as how the Facebook page for this project refers to it as The Zachary Kessler Mystery Adventures: Through the Window seems to solidify this idea. As a pilot episode, it is actually quite strong. The show is based around solid moral principles, it packs in humor that should capture the attention of children, but isn’t so broad that it becomes cringe inducing. The performances are fairly strong for this sort of thing, and the child-actors are quite possibly the strongest aspect of the production. Young Ryan Vincent is a remarkable young talent and avoids just about every pitfall that actors within his age demographic usually fall into. If the movie has a weak point, it probably comes from the budgetary restraints. Some of the coloring within the short looks a bit off (maybe a bit too saturated in outside shots), which gives it a more muddy appearance. Still, this is merely nitpicking. Overall, I would recommend viewers, especially those with children, give it a look on their own. You can view the short on YouTube for free right now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdn8PZQDexg and if you want to read more about the project, you can visit the Facebook page as well: https://www.facebook.com/TheZacharyKesslerMysteryAdventures