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FAMILIAR
Fatal Pictures

FamiliarThe joy of short films is that they can often tell a story every bit as involving and complex as a feature, but without the padding and the excess that a full length movie all too often requires to stretch the high concept into a commercial running time. Case in point is director Richard Powell and producer Zach Green’s Familiar, as tight and nightmarish a horror film as you could hope to see. At 23 minutes long, it’s neither rushed nor dragged out, but instead allows the story to develop at its own pace before delivering a spectacularly bloody coup de grace.

Robert Nolan plays John Dodd, a tightly-wound, seemingly emotionless 45 year old who is tormented by a voice in his head – as he sits quietly at the dinner table, the voice spews vitriol against his wife and daughter and dreams of the day he can be free. But when his wife announces that she’s pregnant, the voice demands he takes action. Mail order abortion pills seem the answer, but it soon becomes obvious that this is only a temporary solution, and the voice demands more extreme action. As Dodd struggles to fight the demands, the voice begins to take on a physical manifestation within his body, and soon Dodd has to confront the monster within before it destroys him.

Nolan is remarkable – while the voice in his head spouts vitriol and hatred, he maintains an outward calm, yet still looks like a man barely hanging on – it’s a powerfully subtle performance, and it’s matched by the slick feel of the film – certainly as polished as any feature you care to name. The physical manifestation of his hatred is impressively unsettling too – like something from a Cronenberg film, the weird growths are guaranteed to make most viewers feel instinctively appalled, and Dodd’s radical, desperate way of dealing with the problem is painfully gory.

A wonderful slice of intelligent body horror, Familiar might not be easy to see – I’ve no idea where the film is being screened – but if you get the chance, don’t miss it. It's the best horror film I've seen in a while.

DAVID FLINT

www.fatalpictures.com

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