The power that a short film can have is something that catches me by surprise every time. To be able to do so much with so little is nothing short of amazing and this sentiment has never been more true then with the with what showed up in my mailbox Saturday in an unassuming little paper sleeve, with a handwritten title.
This common looking dvdr housed something anything but common.
It turned out to be a deliciously unsettling little short sent over by director Jaysen P. Buterin, it’s a wonderful character piece/quasi ghost story entitled BETWEEN HELL AND A HARD PLACE
BETWEEN HELL AND A HARD PLACE Introduces two hit men working together on what is likely to be the older of the duo’s last job. While the two have been working together for many years they know each other only as Jack and do to the nature of their work know little at all about one another. The older of the two Jacks has begun to get more and more superstitious as things progress, something the younger at first attributes to his age and the job wearing on him, that is until they reach The Valley of the Shadows, a completely devoid of life stretch of desert. Jack and Jack have planted many corpses in it’s unforgiving sands but tonight something weird is happening, something strange, something sinister.
A gorgeously shot wonderfully casted mash up of Tales From The Dark Side and Pulp Fiction, BETWEEN HELL AND A HARD PLACE managed to completely immerse me to the point that when it was over I felt as if I had been slipped a few peyote buttons and been stuck in a fever dream of old school horror.
With a film that pretty much only features two people (other then a few extras and a quick shot of their boss) some serious acting ability and awesome characters are needed to carry even a short film.Well this thing has it in trumps, with the weary, thoughtful and reserved old Jack playing perfectly off his arrogant, selfish, ruthless partner. This presented not only some excellent on screen banter and chemistry but also a great social commentary on how the aged, and experienced view life and death vs. how the young and cocksure do even in the most vile of professions.
The cinematography here was HD digital but in a very silky, almost foggy black and white that brought me back to my youth watching the Twilight Zone. This choice was a key point in what made this thing work as it accented the stark emptiness and natural beauty of the desert, as well as really making the black of the Jacks’ suites pop like crazy. Also adding to the awesome were some really well done outside the car pickup shots while the two are driving. I said this before a short time ago when I reviewed Billy Club but I’ll say it again now. PICK UP SHOTS LIKE THIS ADD ATMOSPHERE, CREDIBILITY AND PRODUCTION VALUE! More indie filmmakers should take note on this small, oftentimes overlooked little piece of cinema seasoning and it’s very unfortunate that that is the case.
Overall I give this short two middle fingers chopped off and sanded to the bone. It’s ambitious, intelligent and damn well done and I for one can’t fuck’in wait to see what else Jaysen P. Buterin is capable of.