Vax Image


By Alan Ng | April 26, 2023

For an industry earning billions annually saving people’s lives, who cares if one or two die for the sake of profit? Does it matter if those depths are kept a secret? In Barak Shpiez’s short thriller, Vax, researcher Geoff (Cade Carradine) begins his shift at his lab at Triple Hills Pharma. It’s 2003, and Malaria is ravaging the world. Geoff has been working on a malaria vaccine, and as he’s looking at these samples for the day, he notices one is entirely devoid of the malaria disease.

Believing that his samples were tampered with, Geoff confronts his supervisor, Eric (Ricco Ross). The two soon realize that either by mistake or good fortune, they found the key elements to the cure. The plan is to clear the lab and then isolate the events surrounding what happened to Geoff’s sample. Then roll in the money.

This simple premise is the start of a corporate thriller. On the cusp of a significant breakthrough in disease control, Geoff tells his wife their lives are about the change. However, he fears he will get no credit. All the while, Eric is on the phone with an unknown voice with very specific instructions regarding the sample.


“…looking at these samples for the day, he notices one is entirely devoid of the malaria disease.”

The star of Vax is writer/director Barak Shpiez’s ability to create a thrilling short with indie filmmaking resources. In other words, with very little money and no big-budget Hollywood magic, Shpiez masterfully sets the tone from the start with the simple use of light or the lack thereof. Now, add in the dark color palette the filmmaker uses.

From here, Shpiez makes all the right choices to turn a simple tale of two guys talking in a room into a full-blown thriller. He’s got an ominous and sinister soundtrack to let you know something’s not right. Now add the acting of Cade Carradine, Ricco Ross, and Marguerite Wheatley as Geoff’s wife. Shpiez extracts the right performances from them that just scream conspiracy. Mess up on a single one of these suspense elements, and this becomes a DIY film shot with iPhones.

Barak Shpiez’s Vax is the start of a much larger story. Clearly, the filmmaker is an ardent student of the genre. So now’s the time hit the ground running and see where this story takes us next.

For screening information, visit the Vax official website.

Vax (2023)

Directed and Written: Barak Shpiez

Starring: Cade Carradine, Ricco Ross, Marguerite Wheatley, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Vax Image

"…Shpiez masterfully sets the tone..."

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