Frederick Tablyus Nah IV
Kera McKeon, Jeremy Trombetta
The general appeal of a criminal enterprise is no secret, it's the money. So much more money than a regular job, or even a great regular job - not to mention the potential power a successful criminal may obtain. Especially if you've been raised with the proverbial silver spoon, the thought of a regular, menial financial existence would be a terrifying prospect - for damn near anyone who once had the luxury of an expense account. Starting off in 2012, we're introduced to Tony, a party child of sorts who we quickly learn has been cut off from his parent's supply of cash. As if on queue, a friend, sort of, offers Tony a job delivering packages. It pays 15K and it's safe to say the packages in question are definitely not the legal types. What's a guy like Tony to do? He needs the cash to maintain his lifestyle, and in his mind, his girl Sarah.
Fast forward to present day and we find Tony in a spot of trouble. He's lost a "shipment" due to the lack of willpower of his goons, and because Tony is responsible, well reader... Tony is on the hook. Apparently, these are not guys you mess around with, and the idea of flaying skin is brought up - not just for him, but for Sarah as well. In an attempt to get away, Tony begs Sarah to leave with him on a "vacation" for a spell. Only Sarah isn't stupid - and leaves him. The rest of the film follows along as Tony attempts to get the hell out of dodge. For details? You'll simply have to see "Artifice" for yourself. Clocking in at under fifteen minutes, don't worry about long term commitments - and in this case, it's time well spent.
Technically, this was a pretty sound production. I did notice a few frame rate issues - mainly encompassing what I believe was stock footage, but these were only minor instances and the casual viewer may not even notice them. Speaking of the stock footage, for once in an indie film the footage was actually used properly. Okay... maybe writing "for once" is a little dramatic, but my point is the same. The footage was used to compliment the story, not overtake it - and the result was a production that felt that much larger in scope. Worked like a charm.
Another area this short film really did shine was in the casting. Tony, Sarah, and even the main baddie were all handled excellently. Never over the top or underplayed. The menace was real, the anger and fear felt real, and the overall grit of the film and situation all felt right on point. If I had one complaint it would be what we didn't see - the ending. "Artifice" just seemed to cut off right when things were getting really interesting - honestly, there was no true ending at all. No conclusion or wrap-up to the story. I was led in, shown around, and then just left to my own devices. You could consider it a compliment, wanting more length and story in a film - but again, I'll leave that for the viewer to decide.
At the end of the day? "Artifice" was a crisp and stylish introduction to a dark, dramatic world. Was it entertaining? Yes, yes it was. Did I want more? I sure did but in all honesty, I have no real complaints about the time spent watching other than the feeling this was actually episode one of a series. Had there simply been a little more meat on the bone... you get the idea. A solid three and a half stars.