Raymond (Anthem Moss) and friends are playing cards when their friend Lucas (Soren Hojen) arrives, viciously murdering the group. Seemingly an act of revenge, as Lucas was suspecting his wife Sandra (Satu Makeda) of cheating with Raymond, this short film by Adrian Marquez Barrios moves forward to reveal that nothing is as it seems, and we can’t always trust what we see with our own eyes.
And that’s what I truly appreciated about 94: the uncertainty of the narrative, and the way it coiled in on itself, showing different perspectives and versions of the truth. Just when you think you know what’s going on, and how it all really went down, you get a new piece of the puzzle and the film changes. Again and again, the narrative turns until, by the end, I’m still not entirely sure I buy what the truth was because, at that point, the narrative ground I’ve been standing on has shifted so many times, I don’t want to trust anything, especially what I’m being shown.
When 94 goes violent, it goes gruesome but it doesn’t fetishize the brutality; acts of violence are sudden, intense and shocking, as well they should be. In those ways, it almost strays into horror film territory but I still think it is more fair to put it in the “psychological thriller” genre, if one had to box it up. And as far as creepy psychopaths go, Soren Hojen’s Lucas delivers big on the off-putting and mentally disturbed factor, somehow playing vulnerable and menacing at the same time.
While I did enjoy the narrative twists, I do also think the film runs a bit too long. It can be exhausting to keep twirling the truth the way the film does, so the longer it runs the more worn down the audience can get. This is a small criticism however, because the film does work as it is, and I don’t mind a bit of a challenge, but I do wonder how it would work at a shorter length.
94 is a fine thriller that keeps you off-balance from beginning to end. It also managed to re-frame how I’ll think of Guns N’ Roses’s “Patience” from here on out, which is a good thing; I was never really fond of the original music video anyway.
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