Max and Julie are very much in love. Julie is rather jealous but Max knows nobody’s perfect. Certainly not himself.
Short films are a unique category of moving picture in that they have the obvious challenge of getting a message across in the shortest amount of time possible; but therein lays the same sandbox for making an impression with grit and creativity within even greater constraints.
After an evening of drunken karaoke, Max (Thomas Alden) and Julie (Pauline Helly) return home and here is where the story slowly grabs you then shakes violently, with a gut punch halfway through. If you’re paying attention, you know what’s coming.
Without spoiling too much, the story itself focuses on an emotive, prevalent social issue, and doesn’t shy away from showing those little foreshadowing elements that we all often overlook for whatever reason. The horror here lay in that some of you already know this story.
One of the aspects that makes this short stand out is the colourful use of subtitles: You initially think they form part of the karaoke festivities until the couple leave, then you notice they are coded according to each character, and sometimes cleverly convey subtext. Not only do they form part of the storytelling but provide a mood swing for the audience.
The atmosphere is expertly prominent as it contributed to the build-up and complemented the colour-coded subtitles, because one minute you’re assuming this will delve into a musical, and then in the next it creeps along with a very different feeling, giving you pause for what’s ahead.
This thriller achieves what is necessary to complete the story with regards to acting, music, setting, camerawork and other technical aspects; but for those 9 minutes and 39 seconds (excluding the credits), Catté effectively captures your attention and does so in a novel, uncompromising way that demonstrates capability and insight.
In short, one could describe “Ad Lib” as cagey, charged, to the point and deserving of the awards it has received thus far (Best Social Horror, Best Actress and Excellent Art Award).