What happens when you pass your curse on to the one you save? Irish first time writer/director Garret Walsh poses that very question in his beautiful short The Observer Effect.
Without giving too much away, the film centers on Maeve (Vanessa Emme) and Cian (Brendan Sheehan), two mildly flirtatious co-workers who walk home together after work. Unbeknownst to them, Maeve has a stalker (Patrick O’Brien) following her through the forest shadows when she parts ways with Cian. She senses him in the darkness, but gets home safely. We then spend some time with the stalker and see that he has visions of a violent scene involving Maeve, Cian and himself. Later, Cian attacks Maeve as they walk home together, leading the stalker to jump in and rescue her while getting mortally wounded in the skirmish. It doesn’t end there, though. Maeve now havs visions and her destiny is revealed.
“…a dreamlike quality that borders on the haze of reality and nightmare that keeps everything slightly off-kilter a la Lost Highway.”
The story unfolds through some absolutely gorgeous visual composition. Together with cinematographer Philip Blake, Walsh depicts a narrative that draws you in and engages you in the action. Darkness becomes a tool, not a shroud, forcing the background to be a character of its own. There’s also a dreamlike quality that borders on the haze of reality and nightmare that keeps everything slightly off-kilter a la Lost Highway.
Franceso Tresca provides an excellent score of ominous, electronic drone, squelching noise and tribal beats that hovers between Lustmord and Psychic TV with a touch of Bear McCreary. Honestly, it deserves a soundtrack release to be heard on its own merits.
“…ominous, electronic drone, squelching noise and tribal beats.”
The one issue – and it’s a very minor issue – is that the visual aspect completely overtakes the story to the point where you may be left wondering what exactly happened in the end. Creating a memorable, thought-provoking film is always a plus, but a little more clarity in the narrative helps, too, even when going the David Lynch route. That said, it’s a short film and, as such, it accomplished everything it set out to do.
According to IMDB, The Observer Effect is Garret Walsh’s sole credit, not only as writer, producer and director, but entirely. If he’s able to accomplish this masterful work of art on his first outing, who knows what he’s capable of with a few films under his belt. Needless to say, he’s one to watch in the future.
The Observer Effect Written and directed by Garret Walsh. Starring Vanessa Emme, Patrick O’Brien, Brendan Sheehan, David Norton, Peggy Walsh, Kevin Lydon, Derick McLoughlin, Damien Byrne, Sarah Lydon, Conor Brennan, Jade Carpenter, Majella Brennan and Brian Leahy.
4.5 out of 5 stars