Certain films might be highly regarded due to their ambitious screenplays that capture the zeitgeist of a particular era; such as American Beauty, which does not hold up well. Other movies will get accolades for addressing aspects of a past generation in a new way, redressing them in an engaging, or thought-provoking light; think The Shape Of Water and its 1960s setting.
However, the most surprising films that become perennial favorites, and the ones who typically hold up in any day and age, are those with the most basic setups. The movies that wow their audience with not just the excellent acting and stylish directing (which are also offered by the more traditionally awards-baity films) but by turning a simple plot, one told hundreds of times before, into a product that demands the audience sit up and take notice. Darren Aronofsky’s brilliant The Wrestler is nothing more than a traditional sports drama, focusing on the aged star and his need to prove himself, both professionally and on a personal level. In the broadest strokes that synopsis could describe Cinderella Man. Those two have little in common in the specific details of their stories, or the way in which they are told, but all is said and done, they do share a same basic story structure.
All that to say the Gavin Carlton written and directed short film Recently Deleted has a seemingly uninspired plot. It sounds like Pod and 10 Cloverfield Lane met up with The Puppet Masters (not to be confused with the long-running Full Moon franchise) to create a test tube baby. However, it is so much more than that.
“…she needs to delete those photos or else…”
Carrie (Keely Kathleen) is in her home, awaiting Phil (Tyler Wiseman) to come over with some food. He calls her, but only a few coherent words can be made out, the rest garbled gibberish or static. However, the phrase “delete photos from the other night” is eventually pieced together.
Then someone knocks on the door. Carrie, already freaked out, not just by the phone call but by odd electrical problems peers out the peephole. She sees a person dressed in a smart suit, but a fedora is covering the tall man’s (Joe Jordan) eyes. He states that she needs to delete those photos or else. Scared for her life, she races to the bathroom to hide and attempts to recall Phil.
Suddenly, a blackout occurs. Seeing the shower curtain move a bit, Carrie pulls it back, only to find nothing; not even a jump scare. She turns around and discovers the humanoid creature behind her. She bolts for the next room, only to find that it is blocking her every exit. Does Carrie escape? Can she delete the photos in time? What do the aliens truly want?
Carlton, a well known visual effects artist, who recently worked on the fantastic puppet- starring film Yamasong: March Of The Hollows, directs his third short film with kinetic energy and visual pizazz. Recently Deleted solely takes place in Carrie’s house, with two brief sequences outside in the backyard. Carlton takes full advantage of every nook and cranny, offering a surprising number of interesting angles and an agile, quick moving camera that highlights the intense and frightening situation our protagonist finds herself in.
“…Kathleen gives it her all and sells every emotion and bit of dialogue…”
As Phil, Tyler Wiseman has a minimal role, only appearing onscreen in the last minute or so of this 8-minute film. But, he does well, and his voice work is excellent. Joe Jordan does a credible job at playing a non-human entity, bringing a formidable and menacing presence to the role.
It is, however, Carrie herself, Keely Kathleen that glues the entire production together. If the audience doesn’t buy that she is scared, or that she saw something equally awe-inspiring and inexplicable at the same time the mesmerizing spell of the movie would break; given the short running time, it probably would not be able to recover. Kathleen gives it her all and sells every emotion and bit of dialogue. That she’s in 99% of all the scenes, that is a huge burden to carry. She does so credibly and with ease.
Yes, Recently Deleted cherry picks from other alien invasion movies, but it creates something magnificent with those familiar parts. The directing and cinematography are stylish and impeccable. The acting, especially from lead Keely Kathleen, is stunning and creates a sci-fi/ horror hybrid worthy of several viewings.
Recently Deleted (2018)Directed by Gavin Carlton. Written by Gavin Carlton. Starring Keely Kathleen, Tyler Wiseman, Joe Jordan. Recently Deleted screened at the 2018 NOLA Horror Fest.
10 UFOs (out of 10)