Watching certain filmmakers makes me wish I was making films instead of criticizing them. Tim Earnheart is one of those filmmakers. What I love most about his indie short films is the guerilla-style production to tell a simple, yet striking story, all within the confines of a limited budget A few months ago, I reviewed Tim Earnheart’s short film Ricochet and now placed before me is his follow-up Safe.
Earnheart’s Safe has a few similarities with Ricochet in that it features a kick-ass female protagonist and a trio of bad guys in cool-looking masks. Nadine Nagamatsu stars as “The Woman” balancing her time between the adoption of her teenage and soon-to-be daughter Kelsey (Corrie Fleming) and an assassination assignment of a hit-and-run driver who killed a family of three.
As the protagonist makes her way upstairs to ready herself for the kill, she is met by three masked thugs armed with a knife, barbed-wire baseball bat, and an intimidating power drill. The killers demand she take them to her safe, but instead of stealing the large stacks of money, they instead go for a mysterious metallic egg timer.
“…instead of stealing the large stacks of money, they instead go for a mysterious metallic egg timer.”
It’s a little unfair for me to compare the two Earnheart shorts as the quality of Safe has nothing to do with its predecessor and thus judged on its own merits. But I’ll make a comparison anyways. While Ricochet was a set piece of action and combat, Earnheart focuses more on telling a smaller scale sci-fi story.
Safe is a nice tight and efficient tale, clocking in at just under eight minutes. Earnheart develops his sci-fi story instead of going for elaborate action set pieces. While the story is good with a nice twist ending, accompanied by some subtle digital blood splatter effects, it lacks a few needed punches along the way. What I mean is the story builds a steady stream of tension toward the climax at the end, when it could have used one or two moments of action. It’s missing a few minor action beats along the way to build excitement alongside the tension.
I’ll admit this criticism is a personal story preference on my part. For the most part, Safe again has beautiful production value in setting and costume along with a story that says a lot without needed any exposition at all.
Safe (2018) Written and directed by Tim Earnheart. Starring Nadine Nagamatsu, S. Joe Downing, Ayuba Audu, Reeve Scott, Corrie Fleming.
6.5 out of 10 stars