[Short Film Review] THE CONFINED

[Short Film Review] THE CONFINED
Maybe we shouldn’t be converting every old building into luxury housing, but American capitalism probably has something to say about that.

The CONFINED is a short directed by Christopher Picone and starring Thomas J. O’Brien, Sabrina Ahmed, and Joshua Diolosa set at an old abandoned hospital. The kind you’d see on Ghost Hunters, where every hallway is just an empty brick room, slowly decaying and filled with cobwebs.

The story follows our three characters as they explore the old hospital, but danger lurks in its hallways and doom is coming for our heroes. The hospital is set to become condominiums in the future so they are looking at the bones of the building to see what kind of investment it is. What they don’t know is that it is haunted by a cult who were all executed there.

This 5-minute short begins with a bit more exposition than I’d like, especially since it’s all done in text and takes up almost 45 seconds before we meet the cast. 45 seconds isn’t a long time in a feature-length film, but it is in this instance, especially since I think you could have delivered that information faster through character interaction as they hike toward the hospital.

My biggest compliment for this short, and I have a few, is for the sound. Despite the audio issues you’d have in an empty concrete room, they pull off great sound for actors, and the sound design, vocal performances, and score all balance out well. The looming drones of the score never get old, and the chirping birds outside mask the unpleasantness of the old building.

The camera work is also really good. Many of the shorts are at eye level, but there are enough fun close-ups or angled shots to break up the monotony. For a 5-minute short, this delivers. Most people won’t notice it and that’s exactly what you want, but if you do take the time to study the camera, you’ll be pleased to see how each shot is set up.

One thing I didn’t fully understand was the color grading choices. THE CONFINED definitely put some color grading to use, which is great, as many people don’t even think to add that, but it wasn’t consistent. I don’t mind that as long as it makes sense to what’s going on in the story, but nothing seemed to change of note in order for the color to change. Maybe that’s a personal thing since I love color grading my own work and I notice it more often than most do, but it did stand out.

Something else that stood out was the acting. It was hit or miss depending on the scene, and for a short of this size, I’d think that there were possible takes that hit the cutting room floor that may have been better. If this was the best they had, I actually would have loved to see reshoots. I saw enough fantastic performances from everyone involved that those lines that feel off seem to be more to do with the take than it being related to bad acting in general. Joshua Diolosa is the standout of the pack here in my opinion, delivering some zingers and genuinely feeling like he’s the most gung-ho of the group. I bought into everything he did and said.

It’s obvious that this short was shot on a budget, and I commend anyone for going out and shooting something with what they have. Overall, THE CONFINED is an easily digestible short and a stepping stone for some creative folks that I think could step up and deliver with the right timeframe and budget.

THE CONFINED is available to stream on YouTube.

Josh Taylor
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