[Short Film Review] UNCONTROL

We all have rituals that ground us. The behaviors that we use to self-soothe and self-regulate whether or not we realize we’re doing it. But what happens when we take it too far? Crafting a ritual that goes too far and even, dare we say it, terrorizes the mind more than not. In Manon de Reeper’s UNCONTROL, viewers watch as Abby’s fear and need to control her environment turn into something a bit more.

Throughout UNCONTROL, we observe Abby (Tené A. Carter) go through the ritual of knocking on her door twice in four sections after locking it. There is an unexplained fear of the outside, but it is easily picked up every time she suspects something going awry. She shrinks back from a stranger walking by in the hallway, possibly connecting to a fear of people. Over the course of five minutes, her unchecked paranoia conjures up something deep within that taunts her. Inadvertently, it also leads to questions that remain unanswered in its final reveal.

Carter does a great job of capturing the steadily increasing anxiety within Abby. The direction from de Reeper plays a part in the execution, both working in tandem to build up the levels with each new knocking phase. The repetition of the knocking reminds of the lub lub of a beating heart – an extension of Abby.

The staging of the apartment reveals Abby’s internal turmoil. It’s messy with trash and dishes scattered everywhere. Executive dysfunction may be the name of the game here, but whatever is happening, it’s indicative of the woman within. Bathed in a warm light that compliments the red Abby dons, this usage of color comes in handy in observing the woman’s gradual downward descent. The cool blue glow from the television is our first major indicator that something is amiss, until the reveal at the end.

While the ending of UNCONTROL serves as a shock, it leaves more questions in its wake. It piques curiosity but also reads as an incomplete ending. A minute or two more might have helped in giving that feeling of balance and completeness towards the end.

As a psychological horror, UNCONTROL offers us a glimpse into the world of Abby but could have easily pushed a little further to give a less abrupt ending. That said, the short shows de Reeper’s potential and should make others curious about her first feature, Detain Me, currently in the works.

UNCONTROL is now available to watch on YouTube.

Sarah Musnicky
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