Doyle Burkett is an Iraqi war vet suffering from PTSD; he also happens to be a junkie. After waking from a night of using, Doyle is greeted by Alexander, a spiritual being who gives Doyle the choice to turn the tide of an ancient war. Now Doyle must steal an ancient artifact that will tip the scales of good versus evil or walk with Alexander into the afterlife.
Written By: Lee Kolinsky
Directed By: Steve Sage Goldberg
At first, watching Junkie Heaven feels a little disconcerting. The opening segment timed to a ticking clock feels familiar, yet strangely awkward with it's deliberate quick cuts. And yet it's also strangely fitting for the story about to unfold. Writer Lee Kolinsky pens a go-for-broke scenario that is both absurd and unique all rolled into one. As the end of the short approaches, one realizes that while it may not be as absurd as originally thought, there's nothing here you didn't see coming. You're also left questioning the personality of a character who paves the way for a twist ending. This is in no way a harsh criticism; the movie is quite well done. I'm just writing the obvious that I, as a viewer felt when the credits rolled.
I found the look of Junkie Heaven a refreshing one. A 90's vibe and color that felt right at home on my set. Aside from a few stylistic choices, the editing was fast and furious keeping the pace break-neck; even through what could have been some slower dialog sequences. Director Steve Sage Goldberg does a fantastic job directing the onscreen action, making even the old feel fresh again. But where does Junkie Heaven really shine? It's in the performances themselves. Joseph Halsey showcases his acting chops as Doyle, the lead in this short little adventure. It's a safe bet wagering that his ability fattened some of the weaker scenes in the film. What really blew my mind however, was the fact that everyone kept up! All the supporting cast kept the performances on the up and up and completely believable. We've all seen some great films where a scene is skewed by a less experienced actor... and some corny delivery. Not the case here. I watched twice and I looked for some cheesy lines or deliveries. I couldn't really find any. The acting was solid right down to the perfectly executed expressions. The cast of Junkie Heaven should all be proud of the world they've helped create. Thumbs up all the way.
As far a short films go, Junkie Heaven is a good one. It goes to work managing to entertain for just under 20 minutes. What more could you ask in a short? Check the trailer and keep your eyes open for this one. Although not perfect, (what ever is?) it does the trick in a great way and is open enough at the end to make you crave some more.
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