Greed (Short Film)

14 Jun

stills_Greed

Smith’s Verdict: ***1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Before I start this review, it’s fair to warn you that SPOILER ALERTS are coming! SPOILER ALERTS are coming! Check out the film on the link below before reading this review.

When watching the 8-minute short film “Greed,” I wasn’t sure how I was going to review it, since it felt like a story we’ve seen/heard before, though shot and acted very nicely. I would recommend it for that skillfulness, but to be honest, it’s the ending twist that really makes the film. It’s the kind of twist that has you think about what you just saw, and unlike a lot of twist-endings I can think of, you actually care to look back because it’s a good film.

“Greed,” which was written and directed by University-of-Central-Arkansas digital-film-major Trenton Mynatt, is a Western, set in the Ozark Mountains in the 1800s. And let’s get this out right now—the look of this short is incredible. Not only is this film shot very nicely, but also you really get a sense of being there with these characters in this desolate environment. Even something as simple as handwritten words on a letter or a knife sharpened against a stone looks great.

But I digress. What’s the story? Well, it’s fairly simple and straightforward…so you would think. It begins in a cat-and-mouse chase that has already begun in a story that I wish could have been made, so the film could be longer and more effective, but you stick with what you got. Anyway, a wealthy man named Jimmy who, along with a small posse, is on a search for gold and also on the run from a malevolent Marshal for mysterious reasons. The Marshal has already killed their guide, so they must move further or else they’ll pay the same price. But a price for what, you ask? This is actually what makes “Greed” original and quite fascinating—the twist. And at this point, I’m obligated to state again—SPOILER ALERT!

Believe it or not, I’ve only described the first three-and-a-half minutes of this eight-minute short, which consists of Jimmy turning on the remaining two members of his group, killing one and leaving the other to die—all so Jimmy can claim the fortune for himself. Earlier, it seemed as if Jimmy and his posse were the heroes and the Marshal was the villain—and while the Marshal isn’t technically a protagonist, he’s not much of an antagonist either. And it all becomes clear at the end, when it’s revealed that…well, let’s just say there’s more to this man than bringing justice. What is the price that Jimmy and his group must pay? Death. For what? Greed—one of the seven deadly sins. It’s a unique, well-executed twist that brings things into perspective and makes you think about what you’ve just seen.

In a certain way, “Greed” reminded me of another UCA-produced short film: Allison (Hogue) Bristol’s “Hitchhiker” (already reviewed by me), which was made the year before. It’s the simple, seemingly-generic story with a fresh manner of execution and a resolution that turns it all around and makes you think maybe it wasn’t so “simple” or “seemingly-generic” after all. (And wouldn’t you know it—some of the people involved in the making of this film were also involved in the making of “Hitchhiker.”) Now that you’ve watched it on Vimeo before reading this part (I hope you did; if not, don’t say I didn’t warn you about spoilers), watch it again knowing what you know now and think about what you see. For example, notice the look on Jimmy’s face early on when he’s reading the letter stating a brother is dead—is it indifference due to his greed, sadness because of the loss, fear because he knows who’s after him? This is what twist-endings were made for—not to merely confuse us or take us off guard, but to make us look back and really reflect about what was set up for it. “Greed” is a short film that worked in that sense.

Check out the film here: https://vimeo.com/43716364

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