Siblings Laney and Josh discover a supernatural presence in their backyard tree house while left home alone overnight.
Written By: Matt Gray
Directed By: Matt Gray
Watching "A Special Place" immediately reminded me of more than a few late 80s and early 90s films. "The Gate" came to mind on more one occasion; only toned down a bit. That's not an insult or slight by any means, I am a huge fan of the films from that era. Something about young adults facing mysterious forces always seems to take me back. The short film itself managed to hold my attention from start to finish, and although I'm not a huge fan of the ending, it did fit the movie and all things considered, it left the gate wide open for a sequel or feature length film.
After watching "A Special Place" a few things stuck with me regarding the technical aspects of the film. First and foremost, the opening shot. I assume it was done with a drone but could be wrong. As beautiful a shot as it could have been, the shot was lost due to what I can only describe as a warping of the image. This, alongside a few camera shakes really defeated the beauty of the composition. Sometimes, just because you can do something, or add something, doesn't mean you should. Maybe the warping was an upload flaw, but for me, a simple wide shot would have been much more effective. Sometimes hard choices have to be made in the cutting room. Have doesn't always mean you need to. Aside from that, the overall edit and pacing was done nicely and the majority of the lensing was decent. Loved the dark shots which made the later part of the film a little more sinister. However, a few of these darker shots stood out as odd. Sure, when people are in the dark with flashlights we expect to see them; that doesn't mean said person is forever walking around pointing the flashlight at their own face. Would have been cool for some imaginative lighting ideas for these select shots. The concept and direction of the film itself was done well, showing us that Matt Gray has a knack for dialog. Save a few awkward moments, everything seemed natural, including the progression and pacing of the story. The actors performed surprisingly well and I wasn't left feeling cheesed out or weird. Working with young actors can be hit or miss and in this case, we have some winners. The biggest drawback for me was the ending. This is a religious themed movie and hints of this can be seen through-out. I didn't feel we needed a "right in your face" explanation of the evenings events. Aside from setting things up for another round in the future, the ending of "A Special Place" just felt like someone thought I wasn't smart enough to put the pieces together myself. Maybe I'm completely wrong, that's just how it felt to me. Subtle instances sometimes work much better than front and center.
"A Special Place" takes on the responsibility of entertaining its viewers and doesn't disappoint. The atmosphere created far outweighs any small personal 'peeves' I may have had with this flick. Matt Gray sets out to tell an eerie story and does so with a certain charm that's helped along by an excellent cast. This is one of those indie flicks that defeats the norm and actually produces a good watch. Glad I had the chance to drop in.
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