Brian (Timothy J. Cox) and Maria (Maria Natapov) are paranormal investigators, brought in to check out reports of a haunting at Eddie’s (Eddie Nason) house. A couple of dubious means, and intentions, Brian and Maria don’t expect to find much of anything, though it’d be better for their wallet if they did. Which is why, when they are surprised by the arrival of a young girl (Uatchet Jin Juch and Nekhebet Kum Juch) in the basement, they convince her to pose for a series of “evidence” photos.
Sean Meehan’s short film, Mallas, MA, is a pleasant paranormal fairy tale, reminiscent in tone to the gentler moments of Beetlejuice. Its story is playful and straightforward, tackling the world of paranormal investigations with an eye that is both cynical and endearing at the same time, giving emotional depth that might otherwise not exist had the film been executed in a more bombastic fashion. This ghost story has heart.
One of the most remarkable aspects of this short is that it was made as part of the 2013 Boston 48 Hour Film Project, meaning it was conceived, filmed and finished within 48 hours. Which is spectacular, because this looks like a film that took much more time and effort to create than simply a two day span. That said, however, it also explains some aspects where the film stumbles.
For one, the narrative itself could’ve used a little more massaging. When certain elements are revealed in the film’s final act, they feel like forced character development. My guess is that is precisely what is going on, to keep within the rules, or within the resources, of the 48 hour competition. The result is that, by my interpretation of the short, what should’ve been a more powerful moment comes off more as puzzling than otherwise. It makes sense when you really think about it, and the emotional depth I mentioned earlier exists, but its impact is diluted.
Again, though, for a film made within 48 hours, Mallas, MA raises the bar as far as what type of quality we should be expecting from these competitions, because it’s a quality short whether you know about its production or not. Beyond the fact that the film looks gorgeous, and the acting is solid, it also has a ridiculously impressive moving camera shot in the opening, that rises up from a shot of our paranormal investigators’ car to reveal the entire town. I’m not easily impressed, but how did they get that shot? Crane? Digital chicanery? Model of a town? Regardless, it’s just one example of how the short succeeds above and beyond the limitations of its production.
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