It’s early 1600s England, and Faye (Lilah Shreeve), falsely accused of witchcraft by her guardian and soon-to-be mother-in-law, Mrs. Godfrey (Dana Segal), is being tried for a crime she did not commit. Faye does have her secrets, however, as does Mrs. Godfrey, in a town that has seemingly lost their way.
I think my biggest issue with Ilay Ron’s short film God’s Favor is the feeling of “been there, done that” which the film inspires. The falsely accused witch, the real villainy, small town dynamics, religious persecution and the like is just as much a common, tragic standalone tale as it has been the back story for a horror movie or three. And while I’m not expecting every film I see to be a completely original idea, if you are to go with something that has been addressed before, you’ve got to bring something new or interesting to the table.
But God’s Favor doesn’t elevate the familiar. It moves exactly as one would expect, not distinguishing itself much at all. Thus, it’s a tale we know pretty well, told in an okay fashion, and promptly forgotten.
On the technical side of things, the filmmaking doesn’t do the narrative any favors. Composition can be hit or miss, and the staging can be questionable too, particularly early on where our accused seems to run from her persecutors in a straight line from character introduction to character introduction. Likewise, due to this weird character-to-character failed escape, and perhaps the edit, it doesn’t seem like she’s running away so much as just doing laps in the same location (which may be accurate for production, but shouldn’t be apparent in the viewing); if these folks are so easily able to step in her way and talk to her, why is it so hard for her persecutors to catch her? Ultimately, I guess it wasn’t.
The performances in the film are also on the more heavy-handed, melodramatic side, which undermines any potential for subtle character development and thus it’s hard to settle into any meaningful engagement on that level. Instead it’s too much of an opportunity to chew the scenery for the actors, and they rarely pass up on that choice. Shreeve’s Faye mostly plays it cool, but it seems everyone else is a second away from emoting hysterics.
In the end, God’s Favor is a short film that doesn’t deliver anything new on an old scenario, and its filmmaking isn’t strong enough overall to make up for its unremarkable narrative. Thus it’s a forgettable experience, one that is almost indistinguishable from similar tales.
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