Captured in a beautifully horrific way, "Tremble" chronicles the 2010 earthquake in Christchurch, Newzealand. This quake was just prior to the 6.3 magnitude quake of 2011 - so yes reader. It's based on true events. In this short film, writer/director Ricky Townsend decides against the more traditional documentary approach, and instead creates a mini horror film of sorts. "Tremble" allows us to follow along with leading character Faith - as she goes about her daily routine. Talking on the phone, sipping at a hot drink and painting. Seems to be the very definition of the average Joe right? It's during the wee hours of the morning that Faith is woken by her dog Angel. Something isn't right. Something is coming...
...and then it happens. The ground violently shakes, things begin swaying and falling, and Faith ducks for cover under a desk. It's at this point the true nature of this film is revealed. What it must be like enduring an earthquake. Something so scary, words or images really can't do it justice. The horrors of having to cower through something - something you can not control in any way. We all know quakes are brutal - and "Tremble" attempts to convey that. And succeeds.
Aside from being a short film, "Tremble" is also of the sort that is really hard to write about. Essentially? It's a film about a real life disaster. There's no plot or point... other than what I just wrote. Kind of hard to write a lengthy description. What I can say however, is that this film is presented differently. Townsend's piece is akin to a dramatic re-enactment - much like those newer forensic or murder television shows that are becoming so popular. A hybrid drama/documentary with a flare for the visuals. I'm not complaining at all. It's a very effective way to open eyes.
But "Tremble" is even a little more different in the way it presents. It was almost like watching a horror film. By no means am I downplaying the true life event - that I'm one hundred percent sure was scarier than any horror baddie put to screen - but "Tremble" was full of misleading situations. Redirects that forced me to think this was more than a film about an earthquake. False starts like Angel barking, and two mysterious strangers at the front gate. Strange sounds and a generally foreboding atmosphere. "Tremble" really does play like a straight up horror flick. Ramping up the tension until finally, it's true story is revealed. If a viewer skips the description before watching? They'll have no clue this is a disaster story - and this film is all the better for it.
I'll keep the technical babble short and sweet. Very well done and very effective. The pacing is perfect and the sound design? Top notch. Ocean Jones, who plays Faith in the film, also deserves a shout-out. She conveyed perfectly the average person. Nothing over dramatic - and truthfully? She could literally be the girl next door. When the crap hits the fan? Let me just say that even here, Jones maintains her believable portrayal. No question.
At the end of the day this was an excellent short film. The only true way to describe it - it saying that I can't. Yes. I can write out words... but "Tremble" has an atmospheric quality that simply has to be seen. A solid four stars.