Saturday, 8 November 2014

Time's Up, Eve

Director: Patrick Rea
Writers: Patrick Rea, Jon Niccum
Producers: Patrick Rea, Jon Niccum, Ryan S Jones
Cast: Sharon Wright, Jason Curtis Miller, Denise Carroll
Country: USA
Year of release: 2010
Reviewed from: screener

Time’s Up, Eve is about as film noir as it’s possible to be. Let’s see, there’s a blonde woman running away from someone or something, her hair longer than her skirt. It all takes place at night, shot in black and white with exaggerated shadows. Every exterior is an alleyway, every interior is a sparsely furnished room. The score is mellow but slightly sinister jazz, all parping sax, muted trumpet and brushed cymbals. And there’s a voice-over narration.

Short of being adapted from a story by Dashiell Hammett, I reckon that’s about the lot.

I’m not sure to what extent this could be considered a pastiche, but it’s on the border because all the film noir tropes are in-your-face and obvious but not over-the-top. They’re exaggerated but not so much that the film becomes a spoof.

On the contrary, this is a creepy horror film. Eve (Sharon Wright, who played Sonya Blade in a Mortal Kombat fan film!) is on the run from some unseen demonic things which are capturing people’s souls - cleverly represented by intense blue-white spots of light that stand out from the chiaroscuro monochrome of Hanuman Brown-Eagle’s spot-on cinematography.

Can I just pause here to say that Hanuman Brown-Eagle is officially the best name ever in the entire history of cinematic credits. He/she is no beginner but a very experienced DP with loads of pop videos and commercials plus a number of indie films to his/her credit (including Fight Night, a feature most notable for having had the poster artwork ripped off by the Italian release of a Stieg Larson thriller). Brown-Eagle suggests a Native American background but why would a native American be named after a Thai monkey-god? I don’t care, it’s a superb name.

At only twelve minutes long, it would be redundant and unfair of me to describe the film’s plot in detail but it’s clever and original and very well-suited to the atmospheric direction, photography and sound design. Music, dialogue, sound effects and narration are very competently mixed, which is such a pleasant change from the usual awful sound on little indie pictures. See folks, it can be done. (Producer Ryan S Jones gets the ‘sound editing’ credit.)

Kansan director Patrick Rea has been banging out short films for a decade now including The Evil Awakens, The Search for Inflata-Boy, Zero the Counter, Merriman’s Circle and Now That You’re Dead. His co-writer on this one (and a few others) is Jon Niccum, who co-wrote Steve Balderson’s Stuck! and also had a small on-screen role in Watch Out.

The cast also includes Jason Curtis Miller (30 Seconds to Midnight), Denise Caroll (Cyber Vengeance, Berdella), Robert P Campbell (The Shunned), Aaron Laue (Over the Shoulder of Sin) and Ari Bavel, who started off working for Todd Sheets in stuff like Zombie Bloodbath 3 and Catacombs before progressing to more upmarket fare like Zombiegeddon, Slaughter Party and Bonnie and Clyde vs Dracula. I mean, I don’t know what these films are like but anything has to be upmarket compared to a Todd Sheets picture, doesn’t it?

Nathan Towns (The Night Before, The Nuclear Standard) is the jazzman who provided the late-night score, every note of which wears a black polo-neck and smokes Gauloise. Art director Kristin Grossman is Director of Hello Art (?) at the Kansas City Arts Incubator and also helps out at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

A smart, clever and impeccably stylish little short, Time’s Up, Eve ticks all the right boxes.

MJS rating: A-

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