A young, single mother named Abby (Abigail Eiland) is trying to pull her life back together after a horrible tragedy. Seemingly alone, with the exception of her brother (Alex Newell), Abby gives off a sense of existential dilemma but, aside from the obvious feelings of pain she must be having, we’re never quite sure what kind of frame of mind she is in. Soon she begins to see lights outside her house and her reaction is both perplexed and intrigued, but we’re never quite sure just what is going on. Thus is the central problem in director X.R. Vanegas’ film, which is so short (just over 6 minutes) that there’s not enough time spent on characters for the audience to get inside their head a little bit and see what they’re all about.
I appreciated the light touch Vanegas shows in his co-writing (he shares a credit with Cody Alan Theilman), as the film could have stumbled headlong into over-dramatization or heavy-handed exposition. But, at the same time, the film is so removed from the backstory I never found myself invested enough to know exactly what was going on or if I should even care. Vanegas also keeps it simple in his directing style and isn’t afraid to frame a nice, close shot on his actors faces, which is a nice choice. I also liked Eiland as Abby in that she seems likable and as if she’s trying to move on with her life. But, again, the vagueness here is a real showstopper.
Another positive was what the filmmaker was able to do on what was surely a shoe-string budget. Rather than go crazy with cheap special effects and over-the-top reaction shots, he again keeps it simple yet effective. “Abby and the Lights in the Sky” isn’t a bad short film, it’s just so short it doesn’t allow time for engagement. I wanted to know more about Abby and the obvious pain she must be feeling wasn’t enough for me to form a bond with. Ultimately Vanegas shows too light of a touch and as a result, the overall effort feels slight.
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