Ryan (Jasmeet Baduwalia) definitely missed the memo when it comes to the #MeToo movement. Worse yet, despite confessing to beating his wife (who lost an eye in the process), the sorry excuse for a man got off, and he’s getting right back on the horse. Thus, Ryan casually mixes a drink for Victoria (Nicole Epper) and has no qualms about adding a deadening substance in Andrew Arguello and MJ Palo’s Black Eyes. But the seemingly compliant conquest is not so forgiving, and she’s going to make him pay. The revenge based premise pleasing enough, the actual execution in this 13 minute short film written by Allan Tamshen doesn’t quite stir the drink.
Nonetheless, the score (Arlo Guthrie) perfectly opens the film and lets us know that we are descending into something very dark. The slippery slope gets even steeper on the heels of Arguello’s cinematography. A dimly lit apartment screams run away as fast as you can.
And then it happens – the actors speak. Baduwalia and Epper are pretty wooden, and the well executed set up loses a lot of the steam. Still, Baduwalia does have a pretty good screen presence, and has Ryan oozing the slime that he is.
So maybe the story can carry the film where the actors fall short and Ryan’s reply to what happened to his wife provides hope. “We didn’t see eye to eye,” Ryan dishes and the disdain elevates nicely.
Now ready for where the story will lead. Victoria’s eyes go shark-eyed black and retribution is in the crisp Halloween air. Ryan drops the roofie, but Victoria beats him to the punch with a needle to the neck.
The turn of events leaves Victoria in complete control and Epper still does manage to leave a chill with her dominant upper hand. Of course, having Ryan drift in and out of consciousness won’t do. So the avenging angel rouses him awake with a good dose of irony. “Sorry, paralytic agents tend to do that,” Epper deadpans despite her limits.
The crime, which doles out some pretty good gore, then gives way to the crime scene and the transition doesn’t pave the way for better acting. Christopher Blumen takes the lead as the investigating detective, and his interpretation as Sean the Sergeant is pretty stiff too.
The writing also takes a nose dive. Sean delivers a series of macabre jokes, and the sentiment alludes to what we often see in crime dramas and comedies. Police officers are so desensitized by crime that they joke about a dead body as easily as we do when the toilet is backed up at our work place. This apparently even applies when the crime connects to an instance of severe domestic violence.
Or the film is being specific. Law enforcement doesn’t elevate domestic violence to the realm of actual crime, but that might not be the case. The detective is joined on the case by a brown haired Victoria, who has lost the black wig from the night before. And the female officer begins to take part in same campy, inappropriate jokes.
Does that mean even female police officers are jaded and indoctrinated enough to dismiss domestic violence too? The message being sent is pretty evasive.
All aside, we do get to the bottom of the film’s overall message about crime, justice and revenge. Even if not that original, the revelation is somewhat interesting. But not enough to overcome the Black Eyes flaws.