Alleviate Image


By Bradley Gibson | June 12, 2024

Director-writer Daniel Keeble’s short film Alleviate offers an intimate glimpse into the hellscape of a man who is suffering in the wake of horrific tragedy and loss. Michael (Darren Kent) is isolated and wracked with grief and guilt over a recent tragedy that he is at least partially responsible for. While self-medicating with alcohol, he speaks to the only person who could possibly understand his situation, which is himself in the future. Future Michael tries to guide him through the worst moment of his life while trying not to slip back into the grip of the horror himself.

The film can be viewed from the perspective of either instance of Michael. Which case is the present time? Is this the Michael who weathered the storm to some degree, reaching back in time to assure himself that life will move forward? Or is this Michael just in the wake of life-altering events, grasping for some vision of the future that is something other than his current dreadful state? Perhaps this idea of a conversation is nothing more than the rambling of a tortured mind. The viewer will decide.

While Alleviate is not, technically, in the horror genre, Keeble has accomplished what most meant-to-be-scary films don’t. He delivers the quiet, unremarkable banality of real, inescapable nightmare fuel and does it in a short film. The secret sauce here is Kent’s brilliant performance and knowledge that this misfortune did not result from extraordinary events. This could happen to anyone.

“…the quiet, unremarkable banality of real, inescapable, nightmare fuel…”

Lead actor Darren Kent suffered from osteoporosis, arthritis, and a rare skin disorder. The film is shot primarily in claustrophobic close-ups of Kent, and his physical appearance is shocking. He is emaciated, and his skin disorder and posture make him look to be in constant pain.

Kent died in August of  2023 at only 36 years of age. Keeble speaks of his film and his actor: “It is a complex story dealing with profound and unimaginable guilt, and with only one character to focus on, it was down to Darren to deliver…and, boy, did he deliver. We wanted questions before we had answers, we wanted the isolation and emptiness take hold of the audience, and for things to only resolve as we reach the finale.”

Alleviate is a rough ride, but Keeble and Kent elevate this brief moment in the character’s life to pure art. Kent goes beyond being authentic to make the viewer deeply and personally appreciate a range of emotions from panic to pain to compassion that Michael is experiencing.

Alleviate (2024)

Directed and Written: Daniel Keeble

Starring: Darren Kent, Lulu Cook, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Alleviate Image

"…a man in the wake of horrific tragedy and loss"

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