SHORT FILM REVIEW: ELECTRIC FACES
Writer & Director: Johnny Herbin
Cast: Euan Bennet, John Gaffney, George McWilliam, June Hazel
Set in a futuristic if still fairly recognisable Glasgow, Electric Faces tells the story of Tom – a former junkie looking to pull off a simple robbery. In order to get the job done, he needs an accomplice and having exhausted any human options, he gets a reconditioned robot to help.
The film looks absolutely stunning. The establishing shot of the Glasgow skyline is perhaps inspired by the visuals of Bladerunner, but it very much has its own style and sets the tone perfectly. The world building here is smartly and effectively done, using cutaways and unmentioned background details to flesh out this future. The Glasgow presented is completely believable which is a great accomplishment given the run time.
The worst visual effects are the ones that you notice and here they are close to flawless, enhancing the visuals while never distracting from the story. Every frame has clearly been meticulously plan with the editing perfectly creating a heartbeat to the story as it builds to its conclusion. The direction utilises colour and light to great effect coding each space with a dirty palate and only using the bright clean light of redemption in flashes.
Similarly, the soundscape is perfectly balanced with the dialogue and diegetic sound beautifully mixed. This is enhanced by a powerful score by Daniel McLearnon with electronica tones punctuated with strings helping to establish an off-kilter ambience.
Many shorts suffer from the desire to tell too much story within their brief runtime but here the run time is perfectly judged. There are strong performances all around, in particular from the lead Euan Bennet who conveys the conflict and temptation with few words and strong actions. His accomplice Hugh is given a great physicality by Calum Macaskill, with the slightly odd robotic vocals by Rasmus Kull combining to make a believable and strange artificial intelligence creation which is somewhere between a slightly deranged Telebug and an East End thug.
Electric Faces sets a standard that all short films should aspire to replicate. Director Johnny Herbin has shown a real flair for visual storytelling and this film should prove a great calling card on the festival circuit to propel him to bigger things. This is an electric dream of a short, so catch it if you can.