Keith (Matt Enos) arrives too late to stop his friend Jake (Cade Nickels) from killing himself in the woods surrounding Jake’s mobile home. Shocked and angered by his friend’s suicide, Keith tries to decide what to do next, particularly with the dog Jake left behind, and some of his other possessions.
Matt Enos’ short film Laughing God suggests that, if there’s a joke to be found in the film, it’s an extremely dark one. And if God finds it funny, then God has got some serious issues. This short starts bleak, and then unexpectedly gets even darker.
It’s a little over six minutes, so I don’t want to spoil the “punchline” on this one but, yeah, things don’t turn out great. In fact, considering how the film’s narrative was developing, I expected it to go even darker in its final seconds and was surprised when, thankfully, it didn’t. It’s that much fun an experience.
On the filmmaking side of things, it’s pretty simple. Nothing artistic about its composition and no exceptional work with depth of field; there’s a camera recording the story, and it’s set up in a way that lets it do that. It doesn’t strive to complicate things more than that.
The editing, however, is accomplished. Simple in its ability to drive the narrative forward, but also strikes an appropriate pace and feel for the narrative. There can be the temptation to get melodramatic in editing to match the emotions in the narrative, which can throw off the balance and flow of a film, but that is not the case here. Like the camerawork, simple and straightforward.
But, it is a one “joke” affair. Luckily, the filmmakers don’t press the point and make this longer than it needs to be, so if you don’t like where it’s going, it’ll be over soon enough, and likely forgotten just as fast. It is a competent piece of filmmaking, and it’s the sort of film that feels like a filmmaker practicing their craft and trying out some ideas; not every film has to be a final thesis statement.
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