Familiar is a phenomenal cinematic experience that will leave you with your mouth agape long after the credits role...at least that's how the film left me. It combines the best aspects of David Cronenberg's body horror and Stephen King's crazed characters and creates something unfamiliar that will haunt your thoughts for awhile.
Writer/director Richard Powell has created something special with his third entry into the horror short form. The man releases a new horror short every couple years that stand in a class all their own. I sincerely hope he finds a way to unleash a full-length feature as his next project, because Powell understands how to properly pull the rug from underneath an unsuspecting genre fan.
Familiar opens with a man expressing his distaste for the life he has lived through a voice over that is meant to illustrate his innermost thoughts. John Dodd is your every day man who is waiting for the opportunity to free himself from the burdens of his life. His wife. His daughter. He simply cannot stand them anymore and yearns to find his salvation within another life somewhere. I won't say anymore...because spoiling anything this film has to offer in it's wee-sized running time would be a grave injustice.
The subtlety exhibited by Robert Nolan's performance as John Dodd is impeccable. Seriously...where the goddamn has this guy been all these years? He's a fine actor that deserves to be in the same league as the Colin Firth's and Phillip Seymour Hoffman's of the world. From the very first frame of the film, his presence is so gripping...Familiar would not be the same with any other actor. He's that good...and I hope he is able to find more work in the future. Next up for the actor is a film called Sick about an outbreak which has turned the world into an apocalyptic nightmare. To say that this film has shot up to my short list of most anticipated horror films of 2012 is a sore understatement.
The rest of the minute cast is great for what they are. Astrida Auza plays John's insufferable wife, Charlotte. And Cathryn Hostick plays the Dodd's teenage daughter, Jordan. All are fine in their roles...but, it is the voice over work and the great facial gestures from Nolan that really shine as the standout performance in Familiar.
Perhaps the only real detriment that I can find in a film like this is the same flaw that kept last year's Rammbock: Berlin Undead from being great. The running time. Once things start to really get going and you've invested everything into Nolan's brilliant performance. Familiar's scant 24 minutes are over. And you're there with your jaw on the floor craving more of what you just watched. God...I could watch 2 hours of this film. Message to executive producer Zach Green and writer/director Richard Powell...should they ever happen upon our dark little corner of the internet: MAKE FAMILIAR A FULL-LENGTH FEATURE STAT!
That one little flaw shouldn't deter you from getting your deviant hands on Familiar, though. The film looks beautiful thanks to the cinematography of Michael Jari Davidson. Robert Nolan delivers a performance to remember. And Richard Powell has created a film that greatly surpasses the efforts that Hollywood has churned out in the genre as of late.
Familiar is a hypnotic work of art that truly digs its tentacles in you for 24 minutes until it leaves you gasping for more.
Thanks for reading,