Short films do not get a fair shake in the modern cinematic world. Not only do they not get equal screening time in theatres, but they are also often ignored by critics; unless they are being reviewed as part of a bigger body of shorts. This is certainly disheartening, because these shorts often come from those who will compromise the future of film, and because you will occasionally come across something notable – something which will be seen once and disappear thereafter. It can only be hoped that Zack Bernbaum’s The Announcement will not meet that fate, as, despite its flaws, it shows a great eye for filmmaking and incredible aesthetic choices.
This short begins with a limping woman walking into the bathroom of her spacious home to wash what appears to be blood off of her hands. As the camera moves up, more blood becomes apparent on her face. It is from this point on that the camera begins wandering the house, capturing the sights and sounds of not just the life of this woman but what exactly occurred that led to her finding herself bloodied, limping, and washing herself off. In fact, the star of this film is the camera with the actors serving merely as set pieces. The smooth artificial single-take that gives the audience a tour of the house not only allows the viewer to serve as a voyeur on the life of the upper or upper-middle class, it also heightens the tension as the audience is never quite sure what could be behind the next corner. This is not to suggest that there are cheap thrills or jump scares here. The terror in The Announcement is so much more tangible: it’s humanity.
Unfortunately, the single-take does also contradictorily slow down the pacing to a crawl at points. The thirteen minutes can feel much longer. However, that could be a benefit in and of itself, allowing the audience more time in the space provided. The real flaw, the one thing keeping this film from greatness, is the ending. The ending isn’t necessarily bad but since the lead-up is so good, the finale doesn’t satisfy in comparison. However, a single watch of the film suggests a bright future for Bernbaum’s filmmaking career.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie