By Admin | October 19, 2013

Shane Good’s short film, Hidden Killers of War, opens with text cards informing the audience about the usage of land mines. After making these statistical points, we see a boy (Isaiah Good) and a girl (Arwen Good) running through the woods, eventually finding themselves at opposite ends of a field full of warning signs.

My main issue with this film is the lack of any real suspense, or true gravitas. Because the film opens with a bunch of text information and statistics about land mines, you know that land mines are going to be playing a huge part in the film. That followed by two kids running through the woods and fields amid German “Attention Mines!” signs, and you know what’s coming next. No surprise, no suspense.

Now picture the same scenario, albeit much shorter and without the ominous score, where the film opens with the kids running around and then the land mine experience happens. It’s unexpected, it has your attention, NOW is the time to make your point about the dangers of land mines. Because the other way around, you’ve already made your points before the film has really started. Unless something spectacular happens, and it doesn’t, you’ve already blown your chance to make a real impact on an audience.

Additionally, the film doesn’t make clear why these children are running free around land mines. The synopsis for the film, which I read after viewing it, mentions an escape from a concentration camp, but that context does not exist in the film, and the usage of German signs doesn’t automatically equate to World War II. I got the feeling that the filmmakers were imagining that the audience would get certain plot elements when they weren’t actually included in the film. Since not everyone reads a synopsis first (I rarely do), that context isn’t there and, instead, it’s two random kids running around land mines.

Couple this clumsy filmmaking with a pacing imbalance (this does not need to be eleven minutes long), the heavy-handed score, the uninteresting aesthetics of the text cards (which can’t seem to decide whether to go with “land mines” or “landmines”) and the general feel that the resources on-hand did not meet up with the story’s ambitions (the land mines are the classic, but underwhelming in this composition, “step and launch dirt” effects-work), and you have a pretty lackluster short film. It’s disappointing, because I think the message about the dangers of land mines is a good one that should be shared, but I don’t think this film does that message justice at all.

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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