Damage Control

As the protagonists’ car first pulls up to the dilapidated hillside house, wacky shenanigans, blood-curdling terror, or a combination of the two is bound to happen by way of the setting alone. Though outwardly, a man surprises his fiancee with a newly inherited (albeit abandoned) abode, he soon realizes he’s being stalked. Ryan Oksenberg manages to take his eight-minute short Damage Control and subvert classic genre expectations through a tight editorial sense and fantastic performances.

While walking through the dilapidated hallways of the rundown house, Drew (Clayton Farris) is let down by Alison’s (Heather Geisler) less-than-enthused reaction, ensuring her firmly that their future’s foundation is set right here. Though a work phone call takes her away from further exploring (much to her delight), Drew continues looking through his future home, where he encounters a peculiar Girl (Ana Zimhart) in one of the more secluded rooms. Past and present then viciously collide, irreparably altering their lives.

Oksenberg’s inherent editorial judgment is truly the strongest star of the film…”

Oksenberg’s inherent editorial judgment is truly the strongest star of the film; his pacing methodical with a full understanding on how to gradually (and effectively) mount suspense and dread. While Andy Chinn’s cinematography does aide in this to a degree, providing a fair amount of coverage, it is overall void of much experimentation, which can largely limit immersion into the work. Much also can be said for Alexander Michael Thomas’s musical score; it’s just okay (and that’s okay). However, Farris, Geisler, and Zimhart’s performances are utterly decisive and exasperative, we feel what they do even if we are completely repelled by what’s happening.

Though the story is ultimately quite run-of-the-mill, it manages to wrangle and deliver effectual allegorical nuance. Though also visually limited, the conviction of the cast and overall direction and assembly of Damage Control make it a legitimate gem that more than makes up for its shortcomings.

Damage Control (2018) Directed by Ryan Oksenberg. Written by Matthew Wygodny. Starring Clayton Farris, Ana Zimhart, Heather Geisler.

7 out of 10 stars

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