The thriller is very similar to a comedy. There’s a set-up, a build-up, and the punch line. One end in a laugh and other in a distant contemplative stare. In short films, both thrillers and comedies are constructed the same way, which is on masterful display in Mark Notarberardino’s The Blind Mouse.
In stressful situations, we often make small mistakes leading to dire consequences. Our protagonist, played by Amy Lyn Elliott, just got dumped by her boyfriend. On her way home, she makes an unfortunate wrong turn and winds up at the home of our antagonist (Robert Di Donato). She knocks on the door and asks Him if She can come in and collect Her thought. Initially annoyed, He agrees.
Instantly, we learn that He is blind. The two have a pleasant conversation. When She brings up Her boyfriend, He mentions that He has a thing for blonds. She tells Him that She is blond, when in fact, She is black. Immediately, His spirits are lifted and confides in Her, how He became blind as a result of an accident with his last girlfriend.
“She tells Him that She is blond, when in fact, She is black.”
In short films, story is key. The story can overcome many flaws in production and acting. This is the case for The Blind Mouse. The story starts small with She needing assistance, and we’re hooked. The two leads are pleasant, and we follow along on their journey together.
Notarberardino shot his eight-minute short in black-and-white, which was a good choice. He understands how to shoot in black-and-white as well, working with the contrast between dark and light tones and imagery. His shot composition is deliberate and fascinating, particularly when showing our two leads in the same frame and refuses to stick with the traditional left/right framing. The Blind Mouse has a Twilight Zone/Sin City/noir feel to it, which builds beautifully to its ultimate thriller ending.
There are just a few minor problems. The acting, for the most part, is overall good but feels scripted in the middle. It feels like line recitation versus acting. Ample rehearsal time is usually the best solution, which is usually in abundant supply with a short film. There are also a few sound problems with a line or two. ADR usually solves that problem as well, and its especially easy when the line of dialogue occurs off camera.
Nitpicking aside, The Blind Mouse is an excellent thriller with an exciting ending. Well worth eight minutes of your life.
The Blind Mouse (2019) Written and directed by Mark Notarberardino. Starring Amy Lyn Elliott, Robert Di Donato.
7.5 out of 10 stars