There's no better way to build suspense than with an everyday situation and a side order of awkwardness to go with it. That random person that seems to be following you - or that strange hangup phone call you keep receiving never begins as a scary situation, but gradually, that bubble in your throat begins to form, and the next thing you know? Uh oh. What have you gotten yourself into? In the case of Dante Aubain's short film "Polaroid," it all begins with a tidy yet ordinary apartment - and a seemingly innocent knock on the door.
In the film, married couple Arthur and his wife Katharine have an unusual and very open relationship. The two have certain days of the week where they can meet up with different partners and, well, do their thing. It's an unusual but not unheard of relationship - and for many people, it works wonderfully. But when a gentleman named Sam shows up on the wrong evening, looking for Katharine, we viewers get the ever-increasing idea that there may be something a little stranger going on here. As Arthur attempts to be accommodating, inviting Sam inside to wait as he calls his wife, the audience's suspicions continue to grow - something is not quite what it seems. That slowly building suspense then starts shifting into the territory of the sinister - and both men seem to be growing more and more aware of one and other. "Polaroid" is not what you think and truth be told? It was a ride I thoroughly enjoyed taking. The short version of this review? Thumbs up. Both of them. Aubain's film is the perfect example of what low-budget movies should be.
What we have with "Polaroid" is a two-person show for nearly twenty minutes, and honestly, reader, Aubain's film shows itself remarkably well. You would expect to be getting bored after five or ten minutes, but "Polaroid" manages to not only keep you interested but also keep you caring. It's no doubt because of a pretty tight script and some great performances that Aubain's film keeps you hooked. But it also wasn't lost on me that the sparse surroundings and background score also played a massive part in contributing to the atmosphere of this short flick. I can't stress enough the joy I felt as my "spider senses" became more and more active.
Then, as if the performances and atmospherics weren't enough, I noticed the small touches throughout the film. The little things such as the Stephen King book on a shelf - and the seemingly superficial furnishings in the apartment. It all meshed together, forming a wall of dread that grew as the minutes ticked on. Now, reader, I'm not suggesting that "Polaroid" is an entirely new and unique story - or that you won't piece everything together by the halfway point of the film. I'm only writing that "Polaroid" was written and executed exceptionally well for what it is.
By the time the fat lady has sung, I'm pretty sure most would agree that "Polaroid" more than did the trick. It's a well-written, well-performed short film that manages to entertain without becoming overly deep in the process. Dante Aubain and his troupe have something to brag about - of that; there is no question. Four out of five stars.