In this day and age, it appears we are all defined by our worst sin. Director Matt Servitto’s short film, Matthew, is the story of one such gentleman who can’t shake his horrific past. For Ryan (Brian Keane), this was not exactly the family reunion he hoped for. Today, his son Matthew (Zachary Zamsky) is being released from prison on parole.
But before he can pick up Matthew, Ryan has to remove the “Welcome Home Scumbag” graffiti off his garage door. His daughter, Annie (Louisa Erlich), is not looking forward to seeing Matthew again. As Matthew leaves the prison, he’s met with protesters outside the gates. When his father gets him a job at his work, the other employees begin bullying him. After all, Matthew went to prison for planning a school shooting.
“…Ryan has to remove the ‘Welcome Home Scumbag‘ graffiti off his garage door.”
Written by Tom Slevin, Matthew wrestles with the issues of rehabilitation, justice, and redemption. When a prisoner does his time and pays for his crime, does that mean he can start over? If years ago, he had the plans and means to commit a violent and devasting crime, is he ready to re-enter society? Do people have the right to hold that crime over their heads forever? And what about family and loyalty?
Matthew asks a lot of questions and leaves it up to us to answer them. Servitto and Slevin make Matthew a sympathetic person while keeping us off balance in wanting to find empathy for who Matthew is today while constantly reminding us of who he was before going to prison. Zamsky gives a poignant performance as someone who wants to get his life back but harbors tremendous guilt and struggles with a ghost from his past.
What I like about Matthew is it’s not exactly a clean story. Questions and loose threads linger, which means I’m still thinking about the film long after seeing it. Some would say that’s exactly what a short film should do.
Matthew is available to view on Tubi.
"…I'm still thinking about the film long after seeing it."