When a man’s garden is beset upon by an unwanted groundhog menace, he sets about to eliminate it with his trusty rifle. Tasked with caring for his son (Austin Rodriguez) at the same time, a child who wants to play with the groundhog instead of get rid of him, Dad (Matt Knudsen) decides to turn the afternoon into an odd, and dangerous, game of tag with the garden-wrecking critter. As one can imagine, and the ominous music hints at, things are not going to go smoothly for Father and Son.
Freeland Shreve’s short film Tag is at times both cute and endearing, and other times dark and tragic. Again, the musical score keeps you uneasy throughout, even if the thought of a Father and Son utilizing a gun as an element of play doesn’t immediately disturb you. You know this is going to turn bad eventually, you just don’t know when, or exactly how, it’ll all come down.
And I’m not about to give it away here. As the film runs just shy of five minutes long, to explain any more is to give away the entire short. What I will say is that the film looks great, with sound visual composition. The pacing is likewise perfect; five minutes for this tale is enough to give it maximum impact, and it doesn’t linger a second longer than it needs to.
If I have one technical criticism, it is that the aforementioned score does tip the film’s hand too much, instilling that sense of narrative dread, so any tragic developments are not surprising. Then again, here they don’t need to be. Fulfilling on the dark potential of the story is enough to make it memorable.
Overall, Tag delivers a darkly cute tale of tragedy. Those looking for some extensive political commentary on the dangers of guns won’t find it here, but the scenario and outcome more than make their point.
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