The loss of a loved one is never an easy thing to deal with. Their death doesn’t end at their last breath for the living as more needs to be done after their body is left behind. When members of a family are on two different sides of the world, technology can help families work together to do what needs to be done. Unfortunately, all that technology means that there’s always a chance for someone, or something to hack into it.
SHARED DOCUMENT is a 12-minute short film shown at the 2021 Unnamed Footage Festival. It was written by Stuart Laws and directed by Jessica Fostekew. The short film stars Phoebe Sparrow and Stuart Laws as a brother and sister video chatting while sharing a document. On it, they are trying to write their father’s eulogy but they are having some trouble. When an unknown person joins the shared document, they think it’s strange but they log out and back in to solve the problem. When it happens again, they are annoyed but don’t think all that much about it. Suddenly, the interloper starts typing and what they type, begins to happen. Suddenly, this strange hacker is more dangerous than they thought.
I love how this is filmed seemingly on two webcams. As we all know, zoom calls and remote work means this view is pretty standard now. It’s so simple but so effective and that is definitely due to the acting chops on Sparrow and Laws. Their interactions as a family are very realistic and their fear is subtle but I do have one grievance. Even though the short film is only 12 minutes long, it feels like there is a lot going on and it’s all building to something. When it finally does crescendo, it’s very confusing so there is a big letdown feeling. You want to feel the horror catharsis but since you don’t really know what’s happened, you don’t get the horror high. If only the ending had been a bit clearer, then I think SHARED DOCUMENT would have been tremendous in what it accomplished in a handful of minutes.
Overall, SHARED DOCUMENT is a great way to spend 12-minutes regardless of the confusion. I really enjoyed the tension and the acting. I would love to see this story turn into a longer film.