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By Alan Ng | September 18, 2022

When I was a kid, my parents just let me wander off and do whatever I wanted to do. How did I ever survive? Now that I’m a parent, my personal helicopter hovers over my child 24/7. Warranted or not, the fears of parents today are authentic, and these fears are on full display in Ben McHugh’s short film, Riley.

In the not-so-distant future, the surface of the earth has been ravaged by the sun, wind, and wildfires. Riley (Madelyn McHugh) and her father, Dutch (Ben McHugh), live in an underground shelter and scavenge for food and necessities at night. Dutch is trying to make the best of their endless predicament by being a good father and educating Riley about the stories of Shakespeare. But, soon, their world is changed with the arrival of a mysterious visitor.

“Riley and her father, Dutch, live in an underground shelter and scavenge for food and necessities at night.”

Riley is a quick and efficient short film. Though the story is simple, what McHugh is doing is presenting an idea regarding what it means to be a parent in a world on the precipice of falling apart. Immediately, he establishes Dutch as a good and thoughtful father, preparing his young daughter for a hot, cruel world. Then danger arrives in a form you wouldn’t expect.

I’m assuming Madelyn is writer/director/star Ben McHugh’s daughter. Nepotism is always a risk, and luckily the young McHugh’s performance is perfect, and the two have good chemistry. Parents will immediately connect with Riley, which begs the question, what would you do?

Riley is currently on its film festival run. 

Riley (2022)

Directed and Written: Ben McHugh

Starring: Madelyn McHugh, Ben McHugh, Kerri Romeo, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

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"…the young McHugh's performance is perfect and the two have good chemistry."

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