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Produced by: Jon Xue Zhang

When it comes to the writing, and Scarlet is completely dialogue-oriented (except for the ballroom scene), there is a mix of smart lines and some that don’t make much sense. In this latter we may quote: “I gave you every chance to be better” (we can’t know what chances she is talking about) and “Shot her!” (the young woman doesn’t have a gun but a crucifix). But, most importantly, the better lines can lead to interpretations that are beyond the plot itself. The arguments of the vampire fit in a discourse against men that sexually attack women and claim they wear provocative clothes. On the other hand, her words may point to the prejudice against lesbians, considered to be filthy by narrow-minded conservatives.

And a smart resource he repeats to save money here is the ellipses, leaving the violence out of the frame. Instead, a bruise in the hand of the man is enough to reveal the danger around.

Synopsis:

Set in Victorian England, a vampire (Scarlet) is held captive by a dogmatic vampire hunter who attempts to 'purify' the unclean creature.Is he lying? Is this all just a ploy? Or have they mistaken him for someone else?

Scarlet is the second short film directed by Govind Chandran that I review for Luminous Frames Festival, which allows me to notice the evolution of his work. This new film is one step forward from Mr. Mimoto in terms of production and directorial style.

Cast: Kelsey Cooke, Niall Murphy, Emily Cosaitis, Fran St. Clair

Now Govind Chandran deals with a period piece. That’s a challenge for independent short films, as usually they have to put up with a limited budget. However, Chandran proves that he has a producer’s mindset, as he already did in the previous film. Again, he restricts the narrative to only one location, and this allows him to reduce the costs in the principal photography. However, this time he has the opportunity to shoot one scene in another location (a ballroom with several stand-ins) and this shows how he is growing in this aspect.

Last, the movie lacks a stronger conclusion, some kind of act or even final line that cold function as a closure. This would elevate the perception of the film, because, after all, it seems that it has not a story properly defined. Anyway, although the storytelling fails, the director Govind Chandran does not, and paves out his way towards a successful career.

Concerning the flashback, it has a good timing when it shows up, because it begins when the vampire is in great pain, near fainting. However, the intercalations of brief flashbacks with the present action near the end seems a bit loose. A longer segment would work better.

Written by: Govind Chandran, Kelsey Cooke

It may be too soon to affirm, with only two movies, but Chandran seems to be a classic director. He again builds up the scenes using traditional shots/reverse shots. But he does so showing talent. Firstly, he knows where to place the camera and choose the best angle and distance. Therefore, he manages to evoke menace and sensuality in the segment where the man grabs the vampire’s face, for instance. Besides, he is able to obtain a great performance from Kelsey Cooke, with whom he has worked before. Another point that reveals good directing is the raccord of the glances exchanged between the vampire and her victim in the ballroom.

The cinematography in the nocturnal scene deserves praising. It is dark enough to create the horror atmosphere but also with a warmth that brings out sensuality. However, the reverse shots of the young woman that comes out from behind the bushes don’t match perfectly with the tone of the shot of the vampire in the scene.

Scarlet

2023, UK, 13 min

Directed by:  Govind Chandran

Eduardo Kaneco

Film Critic, the founder of Leitura Filmica