Indictment is a harrowing short about an amnesiac who wakes up in jail to an abusive officer, with no knowledge of how he got there or why.
Today’s film is the 2016 short horror/drama Indictment written by Jhan Harp and Rob Stith, directed by Gene Blalock. The film stars Derrick Scott, Robert Hugh Starr, Andrew Adams and Nick Somers.
Indictment tells the story of Nico (Derrick Scott) a young African American man who wakes to find himself in a jail cell with no memory of how he got there or why he was there. His shouts for help are answered by the cruel Officer Truman (Robert Hugh Starr) who proceeds to tell Nico that he is there for being a cop killer and then starts to torture the dazed and confused inmate when he asks for his phone call. While Truman knocks Nico unconscious Nico suddenly starts to have flash backs of that night and the terrible and brutal murder of Officer Blake (Nick Somers) and the presence of a dark and mysterious stranger (Andrew Adams) whom he remembers being there as well. Things quickly take a turn for the dark side as not everything is as it appears with the young innocent man locked in the cell with the abusive Truman and he is about to learn Darkness can not be confined.
When I first got the film and read the synopsis I thought this was going to be another police drama of abuse and redemption of an innocent man as is so common with crime dramas but I couldn’t be more (pleasantly) surprised. Right off the bat Indictment hooks the audience with it’s eerie music as the scene opens on Derrick Scott’s character Nico laying on the floor of he Prison cell in the throws of a violent and bloody flashback. This sets the tone for the film to come and really blows the preconceptions about the film out of the water, after all an amnesiac prisoner is not something new to the sliver screen and it really takes something special to break with the conventions of the genre and Indictment does just that. The story is fairly unique with it’s surprising twist and really speaks to the talent of the writers of the film despite them having so few films under their collective belts. Director Gene Blalock brings a special take on how to build each scene and play to the strengths of his limited production budget while never over reaching and ruining the well crafted story. I have seen so many independent films that try to do too much with so little and take an otherwise compelling story and bring it down to a grinding and tragic halt that it never fully recovers from but this prolific director shows his wealth of experience by keeping the project on track.
The acting in the film while not great is also not bad at all. Derrick Scott has been in several television shows and direct to video programs but has never reached true start status, despite that however his performance in Indictment was a fairly strong showing for the young actor. He had the difficult challenge of playing two distinct personalities within the same character and that is perhaps one of the more difficult things to pull off properly in a film. While he plays the creepy and terrifying aspect quite well his work as the frightened and confused man wasn’t quite as convincing and his emotions sometimes seemed forced. The other main star of the film Robert Hugh Starr also has had a small career on the silver screen that started way back in the 80’s on TJ Hooker. Though he to hasn’t had many titles under his belt his performance as the cruel and angry Officer Truman was perhaps the best of the entire film. His character really comes off as believable and act as many police officers would when faced with a “Cop Killer” and really brings it home with his smugness and generally calm demeanor.
The technical side of Indictment is a somewhat mixed bag. The camera work of the film however is a bit better than the picture quality in some scenes, with a little too much noise for my tastes, but that’s just personal preference. While the film does have several instances of shaky cam effects in this particular case it actually enhances the scenes instead of taking away from it, and even more to the point they are briefly done and not lingered on. Each scene of the film is skillfully shot to bring a interesting story through flashbacks and strange angles that help the viewer feel uncomfortable and unsettled which really amps up the suspense of the film.
The audio work of the film is spot on. The voices of the actors are clearly heard and never fade off and sink to inaudible levels no matter where they are in relation to the camera which is a common failing I have found when we have the video issues most films have. The music is moody and creepy really adding to the unnatural backdrop of the film in a positive way and it never once over powers the voices of the actors. The microphone also has no artifacts in it’s recording and has none of the annoying hissing or background noise the plagues low budget films.
When all is said and done Indictment is a harrowing tale of innocence lost and abuse punished that will leave fans of the supernatural and horror films quite entertained for it’s entire fourteen minute run time. While the production has some faults it is a fine showcase for these up coming writers and the skill of a prolific director to work with limited funds and is worth a watch by not only fans of the genre but by young filmmakers looking for a good example of what you can accomplish.
Justin’s Notes – I’m so impressed with Seraph Films. They have an absolutely incredible body of work and know how to tell stories. This is the type of film making model that everyone should try to emulate. Professionalism, high quality, prolific, and an incredible team that knows how to make great films. Absolutely awesome.