As a species that relies on connection and contact to remain mentally stable, we like to think we know those we surround ourselves with quite well. Especially when it comes to family. With that said, when confronted with the fact their loved ones may have committed - or have committed a horrible crime, the most common response is that they never would have imagined person X as anything other than lovable and friendly. "Surely, my brother couldn't have done that, he's so honest, caring, and nice." The reality is this, we can never truly know anyone. The inner-mind is a private place and given the chance, even the seemingly best of us could secretly be the total opposite. But what about family? Would finding out some less than upstanding information about your parents truly change the way you felt about them? So long as they clearly loved you, would their private - possibly taboo inner selves revealed be enough for you to disregard the good? In essence, all my rambling above is a complete description of "Home Movies" from writer, director Keagan Karnes. It's a lot of potential content for a short film only slightly longer than ten minutes to cover- but overall, it's handled quite well.
Abigail and Matthew are clearing out the study of their deceased father. For Abigail, it's more of a chance to reconnect with her sibling than the actual act of cleaning itself. It's not outright stated, but implied that the two have grown apart a somewhat as they've aged. Their father would definitely want the two siblings to be as close as possible, a strong family is a tight family and anyone looking in should see only the best of them. It's during the cleanup Abigail comes across a box of old VHS tapes labelled, "Home Movies" in a closet. Curiosity takes over and the two pop one into the player and are immediately horrified. The cassettes actually contain old porn and as mortified as Abigail is, Matthew seems amused. "I knew it!" he exclaims with a smile - as Abigail watches in horror. Her father was not as perfect and fatherly as she had believed.
"Home Movies" really zeroes in on a person's perceptions of someone else, in this case, parental. Even though we all know that people are people, beautiful and flawed, it doesn't change the amount of surprise when we come to learn that our role models are not the absolute picture of perfection. I personally could not imagine my parents watching porn, nor would I want to. Yet to think they're any different than anyone else is ludicrous. Keagan Karnes uses this as a way to explore the relationship not of the parents themselves, rather the brother and sister. We learn a little of the two, and the types of people they are - using the porn discovery as a launching point to delve into a family dynamic. It's clear that Abigail and Matthew love one and other, but that they are two very different people that won't, and don't always agree. "Home Movies" was a great way to demonstrate this but for me, I was left with one question. Why overdo it? Let me explain.
This film is branded a comedy when clearly there's more drama than jokes. The only truly comical things I witnessed were the clips from the porn itself, and one shot at the very end of the film. There were some gags thrown in by Matthew, but they more demonstrated his personality than were actually funny. The attempt to combine the genres felt a little awkward at times, much like the relationship between the two siblings themselves. Had more effort and time been given to the dramatic aspects, this film would have been an excellent piece to talk about - even debate over. A look at family. By no means am I writing "Home Movies" was not interesting, just that it could have been taken up a notch.
From a production standpoint, simply put, I liked what I watched. The visuals had a classic quality that I couldn't quite put my finger on, but helped serve up the story quite well. This was all held together with a slick edit and some good performances. At the start, I may have thought some of the acting was awkward feeling, but quickly realized that it fit perfectly with the relationship between Abigail and Matthew. Well done all around.
At the end of the day, "Home Movies" did the trick and kept me not only interested, but mentally engaged. It's when you begin to think of other, real-life situations and dynamics while watching a film, that you know what's on screen has been done well. To the cast and crew of "Home Movies" I raise my thumbs high. Well done and an easy three and a half stars.