By Mark Bell | October 18, 2013

J. Casey Modderno’s short film Disgrace is a look at a family in turmoil. Facing financial uncertainty and stress, Dad (Steven Ogg) confronts his teenage son Milo (Devin Druid) about some items found in his bedroom. Like many a teenage boy throughout history, Milo has himself a small stash of pornography, however his tastes veer to the more extreme side of sexual interaction. Disturbed by his son’s prurient interests, Dad’s confrontation with Milo becomes all the more heated until it boils over.

It’s a timely film of a damaged family, and I don’t mean that as simply a judgment on the Milo’s sexual leanings. The fact is, there’s a lot going on with the family, from the financial stresses to the general interaction between siblings Milo and Nick (Aidan Fiske), and Mom (Amber Bogdewiecz) and Dad, that hints that this one moment may be the spark that lit the powder keg, but if not this, it would’ve been something else. The environment is where the true intensity and disturbance originates, not what porno mags Milo is checking out (though you can see how environment influences even those choices; a cycle of punishment played out in all manner of ways).

I say timely because the poor economy and mortgage woes play their part in this film, but also, on the subject of pornography, it is a sign of the times. Not that extreme porno didn’t exist in days past, but I don’t think it’s ever been easier to stumble upon some of the more out-there elements of the sexual spectrum. Mistype a search on Google and you might have a pretty shocking few moments, for example, so it wouldn’t surprise me that kids going through puberty today might find themselves interested in more than just a glimpse of a naked body.

Everything is amped up, and the level of vulgarity today can be that much more intense. I had issues of Playboy and Penthouse growing up, kids today have days of all types of sexual content to choose from online. The only strange part about this short might be that Milo hides mags and printouts, and not, say, erases his browser history (then again, that might be yet another comment on the family’s financial issues).

On the acting side of things, this is an intense experience, and it’s impressive how up to the task everyone is. Steven Ogg and Devin Druid do the lion’s share of the dramatic performance, and they’re incredible, but even the smaller moments for Amber Bogdewiecz and Aidan Fiske are strong. The performances elevate the film’s intensity in such a way that I was getting anxious and emotional just watching, a level of engagement that one often hopes for when watching a film.

In the end, Disgrace is a powerful piece of short film cinema, and a solid acting showpiece. There are numerous layers beyond the obvious conflict, and you could run Nature vs. Nurture debates on this one for days, making the impact of the film far greater than its fourteen minute running time.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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