Answer Your Phone is the new short film by award-winning Australian filmmaker, Benji Wragg. The film stars the talents of Oliver Midson as Greg as well as Rhiannon Newman as Nancy. The film was written and produced by Wragg, with Wragg and Dia Taylor producing the short.
The roughly five-minute production follows our protagonist, Greg, as he hurriedly scuttles through a parking garage attempting to find his way home. Greg is noticeably perturbed, either carrying guilt or ladened with anxiety. This sense of unease is heightened each time his phone rings or buzzes, which is another point I’ll touch on once we get to the score. Greg passes a few souls who exacerbate the situation by laughing at his misfortunate missteps. Greg’s ever-building anxiety then becomes the source of tension that eventually escalates into the film’s creepy climax; one that really does not disappoint.
I admittedly missed the film’s not-so-hidden theme the first time around, watching it a second time as I felt like I had overlooked something important. I could have saved myself the trouble if I’d simply read the synopsis, but I do like to go into these things blind and see what I pick up on myself rather than what I’m told to look for. There are definite themes of abusive relationships and mental health, themes I initially mistook for simple nervousness or guilt (I was presuming he’d killed someone), but later realized that it is our protagonist that is perhaps the victim, and not the other way around. There are a handful of clever clues strewn about that a more discerning eye may catch quickly, and Misdon’s acting was genuinely good. Anyone that has been in an abusive relationship could probably relate to the ticks and nervous reactions we see on screen.
There were two stand-out elements that surprised me, as this was clearly an indie film shot on the hackneyed “shoestring budget.” Firstly, the score was cleverly tied into the phone’s ringtone; the creepy melody that is the film’s theme ringing out each time a message or call comes in, suggesting that the caller is perhaps the source of the fear found within the film—or maybe even the phone itself. I thought that this was a pretty clever touch and a rather unique way of playing with the film’s musical elements. Secondly, Wragg definitely tried to show off his directorial skills with the varied shots that are used during Greg’s meander through the parking garage. Rather than a single camera or a continuous shot, the whole scene is a well-edited compilation of various action shots and angles, all coming together very neatly in what must have been a lengthy post-production session.
Yes, this is clearly an indie, low-budget short film. Yes, I’ve seen many similar films in the past. Answer Your Phone did enough to stand out due to its clever use of camera work and its blending of an important message and macabre imagination. Don’t take my word for it, check the film out for yourself in the link below. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid.
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