In writer-director Luis Gerard’s The Wake, the last thing fifteen-year-old Walter (Isaac Kragten) wants to do is live in a dying town and follow in his father’s footsteps as the undertaker. Walter set up quite the operation to ensure a certain level of freedom. With the family at his father’s funeral parlor for their loved one’s wake, Walter sneaks off to the homes of the deceased and steals their valuables.
Today, Walter decides to expand his business and enlist the help of his hearing-impaired younger brother, Martin (Zander Colbeck-Bhola). On Martin’s first haul, they pick up the typical knick-knacks, but Walter finds the deceased’s handgun. The gun might come in handy later on. In the meantime, Walter teaches Martin how to fire the gun in the woods. It’s not hard to see what’s coming, but during the next robbery, a family member leaves the wake early and arrives mid-robbery.
“…Walter sneaks off to the homes of the deceased and steals their valuables.”
Gerard makes great use of the standard short film format. The filmmaker escalates the seemingly simple robberies into a tense situation by adding the gun. Finally, he delivers the punchline when the story turns on its head. The key here is that Gerard keeps you guessing until the end. I did not see the twist coming, and I loved it.
With good structure, Gerard creates likable characters. Walter is that kid that wants more in life than what he’s been promised. With brother Martin being hearing impaired, The Wake not only has sign language in the film but uses Martin’s condition as a pivotal plot point. Then there’s the gun leading to a potentially horrific ending.
If you’re interested in telling stories through short films, I’d consider stealing from The Wake. You didn’t hear that from me, but Gerard simply carries his audience flawlessly on a thrilling rollercoaster ride.
For screening information, visit The Wake Instagram page.
"…makes great use of the standard short film format."