Toronto True Crime Film Festival Review: 42 COUNTS (2018)

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42 COUNTS is the latest short film from director Jill Gevargizian, which screened this past weekend at the Toronto True Crime Film Festival. The film reunites Gevargizian with actress Najarra Townsend, who starred in Gevargizian's award-winning short The Stylist. 42 COUNTS also stars Sam Williamson (American Honey) and Andrea Dover (AIR: The Musical). 

The premise of 42 COUNTS, which is based off of a true story, is rather simple, but don't let that fool you because its ending will sit with you long after the film is finished. The story centers around two friends (Townsend and Dover) who are enjoying a night off to watch horror movies and talk about their love lives in a beautiful loft apartment that they have rented from their boss. However, when one of them notices something off with one of the appliances, they realize that something far more nefarious is at play, something far beyond what either of them could have ever expected. 

What I really loved about this short was how grounded in reality it was along with how horrifying the circumstances were in which our characters found themselves. I don't want to give too much away, as that would only take away from the surprise, but the real terror of this short doesn't come from any supernatural or demonic entity, but instead shows how monstrous a person can be. It's an invasion of privacy coupled with the fear of realizing you never really know someone (or what their intentions are). It's easy to get wrapped up in films as a form of entertainment, but sometimes those films can be a reminder of the danger that is lurking around the corner. 

In terms of acting, Najarra Townsend once again shines. I liked how different Townsend and Andrea Dover's characters were as they both were able to play off of each other quite nicely. As for director Jill Gevargizian, she also delivers in her execution, resulting in a short film that is entertaining as well as topical, leaving viewers talking long after the credits roll. All three ladies are supremely talented and I hope we continue to see more from each of them in the not-so-distant future. 

As of right now, 42 COUNTS is doing the festival circuit but keep your fingers crossed that it will eventually find a home on VOD (looking at you, Shudder!!) so that everyone out there can get a chance to see it. If you are a fan of horror and/or true crime than this short is going to be right up your alley. Just be prepared to never trust your landlord again.

Shannon M.