We meet Jack Norris behind the wheel of a car, struggling to stay awake. It is dark outside, rain beats down on the earth. While his wife sleeps in the passenger seat, he desperately fights sleep, trying with all his might to keep those heavy eyelids in their upright position.
Then the unthinkable happens, and in a moment that will change his life, he loses his battle, and closes his eyes.
He wakes in the hospital, weary-eyed and hopped up on morphine. He has trouble speaking and slips in and out of consciousness. There is an unconscious woman in the bed beside him, but it’s not his wife. She is somewhere else. In the intensive care unit.
While slipping in and out of consciousness Jack sees a woman in the room. And, worse, he witnesses her kill his roommate. But no one will believe him. It’s the morphine, they say, we’ll have to cut back on your morphine.
Jack, however, doesn’t believe the morphine theory. He believes his eyes, and he knows that what he saw wasn’t a morphine-induced hallucination. What he saw was a woman indiscriminately murdering patients, and he’s got to get his wife out that hospital before something happens to her.
The only problem is he’s a known ex-con, and the police have arrived, saying his little accident has just turned into vehicular homicide, and that he cannot leave his room. So he’s forced to take matters into his own hands.
“Morphin(e)” is a tautly directed little gem with a screenplay written by two men who are confident in their abilities as storytellers, and equally confident in the audiences’ ability to absorb information without having it hammered into their collective skulls.
The acting is better than most short films this reviewer has seen. Each actor shows a concern, or even care, for their character, and they layer their performances with genuine pathos—something lacking in most shorts, in which the actors are just there, doing it, it seems, on a lark.
And, unlike most modern films, large or small, long or short, the tension is crafted by the direction, actors, and camera work. The music, although flawless, augments the tension, instead of creating it, which is the biggest failing of most suspense films.
If there was any justice in this world, this terrific short would catapult the men and women responsible for it into Hollywood’s atmosphere, where they could make bona fide movies for intelligent audiences.