Short film round-up: Harbinger, Beyond, Fine By Me

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Action, adventure and bromance await your eyeballs as we round up more indie short films available to watch – and one of them is a must for classic Spielberg fans.

Welcome to our weekly dive into some of the indie short films available out there to watch for free, that are also showcasing some terrific upcoming filmmaking talent. This week I bring you adventure! Action! Bromance! These three shorts include a wise-cracking adventurer and his team of duplicitous treasure hunters, four British lads on a hike through the lakes that takes a deadly turn, and a Spielbergian epic that has to be seen to be believed.

Harbinger (Dir. Josh Ryan)

Harbinger opens with a chase through trees and a description of the location as the “coast of somewhere hard to get to”. Right away you know what the tone of the piece is. Josh Ryan is the director and charismatic star of this highly entertaining comedy adventure short. He is fantastic as the hero Chase. What flaws the film has are more than forgivable because of this performance. He’s a cross between Ryan Reynolds and Jim Carey (don’t let this put you off).

The film is far from perfect. The sight lines of characters are all over the place in the opening, occasionally the music gets in the way of the dialogue, the young cast aren’t entirely convincing when playing figures of authority (people that would normally be several years older) but they play it with such enthusiasm you can’t help but be entertained. Imagine the kids from Super 8 grew up and all went to film school together. The dialogue is a scream and stay in your seats for the after credits scene.

This is technically a prequel to an earlier short film Treasure Hunt so you could say this is this column’s first double bill. My favourite of the three, check it out.

Fine By Me (Dir. William Stone)

Second up is this terrific British adventure film set in the lakes. A group of northern lads and one soft southerner reunite on a hike in the mountains which takes a shocking turn, putting them all in danger. What’s brilliant about this short thriller is the tonal shifts between terror and hilarity. It never feels like a parody but it is laugh out loud funny. Not only that but it finds time for group tension, a dash of North/South divide, hidden treasure and a bromance.

With excellent performances all round (Jack Crutch as James is a stand out), an excellent script co-written with Adam Pickford and additional story by Shane Mayer (also the camera operator), taut editing and convincing VFX, Fine By Me will keep you on the edge of your seat and split your sides at the same time.

The attention to detail in this film is very commendable. The sound design is used to great effect, especially little throwaway gags that give the whole thing a cheeky charm. The thrills are not overshadowed by the jokes at all and the relationship drama isn’t just tacked on. Overall, great fun and I could see it being expanded to a decent 90 minute feature.

Beyond (Dir. Jeremey Haccoun)

Okay, strap in because this next one is absolutely nuts. An amazing Spielberg-esque epic in ten thrill-soaked minutes. Jeremey Haccoun, who impressively has worked with Leonardo Di Caprio on a mobile phone ad campaign, is at the helm for this high octane short. A family driving through the desert is caught in a rockslide and it’s up to the seven year old son to save them. I’m serious.

With an impressive use of digital and physical effects, Beyond doesn’t skimp on the peril it puts its protagonists in. As one glimmer of triumph presents itself another threat rears up in its place. Things just keep getting worse until the truly explosive conclusion. It’s safe to say when you see this you will question why Haccoun hasn’t been offered a feature film, or at least second unit on an action movie.

The score by Siddhartha Barnhoorn adds a John Williams grandeur to proceedings and DoP Sergio Arguello delivers a Hollywood sheen to the production. Needless to say Aidan Flynn stands out as the kid who needs to save the day, but Jolene Kay is also great as the mother. Sadly Michael Dane, who plays the father, died. The film is dedicated to him.

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