Exhausted, and afraid she’ll fall asleep at the wheel, Alice (Austin Highsmith) pulls over at a motel for the night with her two sons, Clint (Noah Swindle) and Billy (Nolan Gross). Informed that there are no vacancies, the mother convinces the motel owner (Ron Harper) to let her rent a room that he has kept empty due to issues with the water. He reluctantly agrees, and the family settles in for the strangest evening of their lives.
Part horror film, part family drama and part fairy tale in the darkest sense of the genre, Emily Moss Wilson’s short film, Drink, gives us a story that spins conventions and expectations on their heads to keep the audience intrigued and engaged. It’s a stellar piece of work, really, in practically every sense. The horrors that await our unsuspecting trio are of a very unique variety; rarely has wish fulfillment been so disturbing.
It’s a unique tale, as so little is as it seems. The family dynamic seems innocent and normal; the sons bicker with each other, and Alice is certainly tired of their nonsense, but it seems routine. Only when the two boys have a moment alone are elements revealed that this journey has more going on than simply a family out for a road trip.
It goes on a little too long for my tastes, but its overall impact outshines any issues with run time, which is not an easy thing to accomplish for a twenty-plus minute short film. You could probably tighten the edit here or there, and tinker with it, but it works very well as is, and the spooky-slow pacing sets up the payoffs perfectly as the mysteries are revealed.
Drink excels because of the subtle spins it places on such common ideas of good, bad, hero, villain, wish fulfillment, horror and family. You may not understand why certain developments occur, or even how some things are connected, but it doesn’t matter because the entire piece comes together so well emotionally and tonally. It’s ultimately a tragedy, but it’s one where everyone gets precisely what they want.
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