What would happen if 19th Century gunslingers traveled to the present? In the short film, Steppin’ Out, the result is more of a philosophical journey than an interesting one from writer/director Callen Diederichs.
Steppin’ Out begins in a small saloon, where outlaws Chauncey Peckerwood III (Jordan Delorme) and George O’Donoghue (Callen Diederichs) grow weary of the slow pace and tame ribaldry of their Saskatchewan forest town. The philosophic Chauncey convinces the brute George to join him on a time-traveling adventure thanks to the little-known phenomenon called the Buffalo Vortex.
The Buffalo Vortex occurs when there is a large gathering of Buffalo, and you are working with an incredibly low-budget with nothing left for VFX. This buffalo herd creates a mystical time portal to present day. Chauncey and George are immediately flung forward in time and begin an adventure exploring a world that’s new to them.
“…a story about what the time travelers have in common with the modern world.”
Steppin’ Out is more of a story about what the time travelers have in common with the modern world, philosophy and love, and less about their differences, urbanization, and technology. In need of money, the villains rob a movie theater run by two millennials. Chauncey and George then head to a nightclub looking for women and trouble. George confronts a club manager trying to enforce the club’s no smoking policy. Then Chauncey cools down a potential confrontation through a discussion of Nietzsche.
While time-traveling gunslingers is an interesting concept, Steppin’ Out finds itself unable to pay off the idea. The story is unable to connect with audiences in any meaningful way. If the movie theater gunfight was played for laughs, it was not staged well. The philosophical discussion between Chauncey and the bar patron is poorly acted, and for those of us without a philosophy degree is incomprehensible. I had the sense that the movie was made more for the filmmaker than the audience.
The film is littered with noticeable audio problems. During the bathroom scene, a random patron enters the scene, and as he’s closing the door, you miss what may be an important part of that discussion. This instance is just one example of several audio problems that make the film difficult to understand.
Steppin’ Out fails to deliver on an interesting idea. The film is safe and bland, and its technical problems didn’t help either. Action scenes unfold at a slow pace without any interesting angles or cuts. While I admired the attempt, Callen Diederichs’ script needed a few more revisions and a few more production meetings.
Steppin’ Out (2017) Written and directed by Callen Diederichs. Starring: Jordan Delorme and Callen Diederichs.
1 out of 5