Thrill and Kill film review
Stories with vampires are still very popular and that is exactly what the short film FAMILIAR is about. However, the focus of the work is not the bloodsucker himself, but his servant. The British director of the short film, David J. Ellison, has already celebrated successes at film festivals with his previous short films AGAINST I and THE INSANE and has now made it into the selection of our festival.
Richard Mason is the servant of a powerful vampire, to whom he has to make new sacrifices every day. The two live in a huge property, with the vampire mainly living in the basement and only going up to terrorize Mason in his room.
The high quality of FAMILIAR is immediately noticeable in the first picture. This is not a B-movie with a trash factor, but a rather detailed short film that at first glance can compete with Hollywood productions. The whole film is pretty dark, but you can always tell what is happening.
Director Ellison himself mentions classic horror films such as DRACULA (1931), NOSFERATU (1922) and DR. MABUSE, THE PLAYER (1922) as inspiration for FAMILIAR. According to these film titles, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that FAMILIAR hardly ever speaks at all. Ellison tells the story mostly through the pictures, and it works extremely well. In the total of 10 minutes, Richard Mason does not speak a single time. Only the victims of the vampire can be heard screaming desperately from time to time. All of the servant’s emotions have to be created through his actions and facial expressions, which actor Hugo Nicolau masters excellently. Mason’s desperation is believable.
FAMILIAR shows in its short duration that life as a servant of a vampire can be very dreary and threatening. While there is a friendship between vampire and servant in SO DARK THE NIGHT, Richard Mason is tormented by his master and lives in great fear of him. The director says that his short film can be seen as a metaphor for domestic violence against men – a topic that is still too rarely addressed. FAMILIAR moves between horror and drama, which is often a good mix and also works well here.
FAMILIAR is a very serious short film that impresses not least with its quality. The plot is believable and told in an exciting way. In just ten minutes you develop a lot of compassion for a man who appears in a hopeless situation and is actually a perpetrator himself, because after all he provides his master with food.