Written and directed by Paul Taylor, Kiddo is a clever piece of filmmaking. While it appears to be a typical drama, the short quickly and craftily rubs elbows with suspense, horror, and absurd comedy. The film wields these disparate genres with competence and wit, never losing its sense of self. Indeed, this is a textbook example of how fully a single idea can be expressed in the short film format.
A young couple (Frank Mosley and Joslyn Jensen) are expecting their first child. However, the soon-to-be parents are hiding a host of stresses, predominantly financial, behind a thin veneer of honeymoon affection. When an order of takeout food arrives at their door, the couple must decide whether to return it or eat it themselves. It is from such a meager spark that a short but ferociously incisive blaze is lit. Then a stranger (Teddy Collatos) shows up, knocking on their door.
“…a stranger shows up, knocking on their door.”
Above all, Kiddo is well-calibrated in concept. The story and tone are paced nicely to deliver a polished idea in a truncated time frame. Further, the story’s strength is buffeted by believable acting from the leads. The film uses these performances to navigate its host of influences, revealing its narrative voice in the process. This is largely because Taylor has a strong sense of what he wants to say and understands precisely how utilizing these different genres will give his voice certain inflections.
Ultimately, it is the film’s thoughtfulness that stands out. By examining themes such as repression and familial conflict, it delivers insight into the cycles of childhood and adulthood. But, most of all, Kiddo cunningly and humorously illuminates how the foibles of youth swiftly turn into character flaws with age.