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By Mark Bell | December 10, 2013

A woman (Josette Dubois) awakens in the woods with a head wound and a knife in her hand. As she wanders the woods, she sees strange zombie-like corpses and defends herself from these brutally damaged fiends with her knife. With each death comes a flash of something like a memory, and a severe physical reaction for our heroine, before these effects are gone, and she’s on her way to encounter another monster.

Brandon Bentley’s The Crossing does not shy away from blood and gore, and most of its effects-work appears to be practical. Moments are often grisly and disturbing, but also in such an over the top manner as to appear dream-like; or more appropriately, nightmarish. You initially get the impression that someone is killing their memories as opposed to actual people, but you’re finally left more with the thought that you’ve instead witnessed the flawed soul of a monster.

I have to admit, this is one of those films where I wouldn’t have minded if things stayed more ambiguous than they ultimately turn out. The resolution and explanation of the weirdness and gore that transpires lacked far too much context to land with much more power than a confused “huh, THAT’S what was going on?” You could say all of it lacked context, but that mystery is what fuels the short, and the audience’s opportunity to let their imaginations make sense of it all delivers far better results than what the truth reveals.

Also, considering the often good-to-very good practical effects-work and makeup that preceded the climax, the short drops the ball with its ending, leaving a poor makeup visual as one of the film’s final impressions. Other technical issues seem to revolve around the equipment utilized, as certain prosumer digital video shortcomings, like blown-out skies, are prevalent. Then again, the image is clearly altered and tweaked for effect here and there, so perhaps the filmmakers went for that look on purpose. If that’s the case, I would’ve preferred more depth of field work than the seemingly flat and blown-out impression it gives.

The pace of the film could be quicker too, but more in the sense that the edit mix things up a bit better. Once the initial pattern of “see a creature, combat it, suffer the consequences” is setup, it becomes repetitious without moving things forward, and the film’s final insistence on reflecting back on what has happened to explain itself doesn’t help it shake that repetition.

Overall, I appreciated the short film the most when it presented itself and let me stew with my own ideas of what it was and what it meant. The storyline I was making up in my head, and enjoying, was not the one that the filmmakers were ultimately telling, which is the risk of keeping things so ambiguous and then attempting to explain it all at the very end. Had the film stuck to its ambiguity and gone perhaps even more experimental, the final result might have had more power to it.

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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