HOLLYSHORTS 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! Within a swift seven minutes, Robert Broadhurst’s quietly scathing indictment of our inherent prejudices, An Occurrence at Arverne, expertly twists the viewer’s expectations. The short film’s message – and the eloquence with which it’s delivered – couldn’t be more necessary in 2020.
A beautiful opening shot of a plane piercing heavy clouds pans to Marcus (Curtiss Cook Jr.), a young Black man holding up his phone to make sure the house in front of where he’s standing matches his photo. He tries the front door unsuccessfully. Casting a quick look around, he finds his way into the house through the basement. A young white woman watches him. Inside, Marcus turns off the alarms and gets a phone call.
“…he finds his way into the house through the basement.”
To reveal anything else would be a disservice to this little gem. Broadhurst displays an almost Hitchcockian control of his audience, deriving suspense and pathos by making them believe one thing, then pulling the rug from under their feet. His keen awareness displays an acerbic wit, too: “They got an elevated design sense,” Marcus says of the house’s privileged (presumably white) inhabitants. “Nice ceramics.”
Some may well see the “twist” early on, and if so, perhaps that makes them better people. It certainly won’t diminish the power of the film’s finale. An Occurrence at Arverne ends on a perfect note, leaving much unsaid – but does it really need to be said? We all know what happens next. What we need to do now is change it. In that sense, Broadhurst’s film is a visceral and concise call to arms.
An Occurrence at Arverne screened at the 2020 Hollyshorts Film Festival.
"…a visceral and concise call to arms."