Tumult (2011) – By Jon Reino

Sometimes the best comedy does not come from a punchline. Johnny Barrington’s Tumult proves that genuine laughs can be delivered with a straight, and in this case bloody face. Tumult is beautifully crafted, shockingly gory, and hilariously awkward. From the first shot to the last, this film is thoroughly entertaining and a perfectly crafted short.

Beautiful Scottish snow-topped landscapes and a dark, intense soundtrack set a serious and ominous mood. A group of warriors march through baron fields, wounded and defeated in battle. The last of them falls, holding what is left of his nearly severed arm. Another soldier comes to him and tears off the arm and tries to pull him up. When he can not get back up they leave him behind. This whole scene is graphic and realistic, and like the rest of this film everything is shot with the highest quality in every way. The soldiers go up the hill, but the oldest of them has to rest. He is also wounded and dying, and the two youngest are locked in a struggle for power, but as the three soldiers look on in the distance they see something strange… a tour bus?

This film is so strange and unexpected, but what makes it so funny is how serious the acting and direction is while the situation is so bizarre. The tourists are curious as to why these people are dressed in their armor and fur, and the soldiers believe they are angels come to take to wounded elder to the afterlife. When a tourist leaves the bus to take a photo, his flash startles the soldier and dismemberments ensue.

The quality of this film is top notch from start to finish. The cinematography is amazing and the soundtrack is strangely perfect, even with its electronic elements. The acting is terrific and kudos to these actors for playing such serious characters in a very surreal situation. This is a near perfect film. The dismemberment might be on the "b-movie horror" side of the special effect spectrum, but it really is hilarious. The mix of awkward and gore is reminiscent of Monty Python, but relies mostly on the situation to be the driving force of the comedy rather than actual jokes.

The film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and has now had it’s New York premier at the BAMcinemaFest in June. If you manage to find this film playing near you, be it in a festival or online, this is a must see. Blood, gore, and awkward comedy come together in a beautifully shot and artfully crafted short that is laugh-out-loud funny and completely strange to the end.