“We can beat her. We’re smarter than her.” – The Voice
Familiar is a high-quality original 25 minute production that won the Best Short Film Award at Chicago Film Fest.
It begins as John (Robert Nolan) gets out of bed with his wife Charlotte (Astrida Auza). He eats breakfast, drives Charlotte to work, eats dinner, all while a voice no one but himself hears talks about the people in his life in a derogatory fashion. The voice discusses how much he loves silence, how little Charlotte contributes to her job because of her lack of education. It doesn’t end there, he goes as far to hate the thought of her touching him.
The entire film has a similar feel to an Edgar Allen Poe story. Even the lead character is sort of reminiscent of a modernized Poe look. Though original, it does share some similarity to the ambiguous modernized short version of The Tell Tale Heart called Her Heart Still Beats. In Familiar, John blames Charlotte for his troubles; the way the Ed (the narrator) in Her Heart Still Beats believes his wife’s eye is evil. In the same magnitude and the same willingness to do awful things, both the narrator and John listen to the voices in their head as not only their guide but their moral compass. When John’s wife tells him that they’re having a baby, the voice gets even darker in its words and its actions. John goes as far to drug Charlotte so she would lose the baby.
Soon, John tries to resist the voice. He escapes to the bathroom not willing to follow his instructions any longer. In his neck, a growth is shown as the voice demands him to listen and not to start second guessing the orders given.
This is really where Familiar takes its own route. There could be so many different explanations for what is going on with John and most make him a sympathetic character thus changing the antagonist half way through the production and revealing him to be the protagonist.
It’s intense and at times very gross. When the growth gets bigger, it is something nightmares are made of. The make-up is fantastic but if I woke up with something like that I think I’d go to the doctor.
Another movie this reminds me of is an anthology called Body Bags. There was a segment entitled Hair where a man goes in for treatment to fix his receding hair-line and walks out with an alien in his body. If you were to take Hair and the 80s horror flick Stepfather and combine them, you’d be another peg closer to Familiar.
The acting is great, the plot was interesting and the special effects were well-done. This is definitely something that could be adapted to a full-length feature. I highly recommend seeking this out as it is well deserved of the award recognition received.
Scared Stiff Reviews 7.5/10