A troubled teen seeks help from his neighbour, who has a secret.
Released in 2012, this decidedly unnerving story revolves around an older man, think sex offender with a police record - he's on "the list" we're soon to learn, whose life of self-imposed isolation is brought to an abrupt end upon an all too close encounter with a young man who turns up bleeding on his doorstep. As images of his fantasies, if not his nightmares collide with reality, he reluctantly lets the boy into his home so as to administer first aid, even if talk of sex is set to fill the air, explicit words that are but foreplay to the act itself. Yet it soon becomes obvious that the young man is playing the situation to his advantage. But what exactly does he have on his mind?
Written and directed by Jon Bryant Crawford, this UCLA production is played with a raw disturbing edge to it, as we encounter the sexual interplay between a teenager; three months short of his eighteenth birthday and a man old enough to be his father. Only all is not as it appears, for whilst off-camera masturbation and oral sex are part of the sexually direct narrative, the real story revolves around a man oblivious to the manipulative game being played out before him. It's one that the viewer is well aware of from the onset, having witnessed the supposedly innocent youth lock the door to the man's home upon entry, determined to ensnare his prey uninterrupted.
Given the subject and by no surprise, this makes for a tense and frankly uncomfortable short film. But its impressively played throughout by both Matthias Chrans and Harvey J. Alperin who here runs the gauntlet of emotions of a man who knows that he MUST show the boy the door, but seems unable to do so, his futile attempts having been deliberately undermined by the youth. Seemingly caught in the trap, he knows that the boy is too young and almost certain to get him into trouble with the law and yet is equally drawn to the situation in hand, in spite of the severe "three-strikes and you're out" consequences of such. In effect, what we have here is an unsettling game of cat and mouse, or rather dog and goose. And whilst both the short and its ending are clearly not going to be to everyone's cinematic taste, having purposely been left open, its well-executed and directed with an engaging eye, resulting in a work that whilst walking on controversial ground, nonetheless captivates you with its provocatively dark tale. As ever, check it out and see what you think.