We get a voiceover as a man arrives at an isolated cabin in the woods. Thru this we find out that something took his father and later the rest of his family. What is that thing? Not sure but there is a creature lurking in the woods peaking from behind the trees. The titular book sits on the desk, and he flips thru it looking for answers. This magic book has somehow let him track the thing that killed his family and will also let him finally destroy it. Along the way we see him track the thing thru the woods and find a nest full of eggs. Things wrap up with him preparing for the final battle and stepping off the porch. The screen goes black as we hear shots being fired.
Clocking in at eighteen minutes this short film makes it’s point and gets out quickly. The scenes of the man wandering around are used as background for the narration and therefore don’t feel like padding since it sets the story up. You might think that it is impossible to make a boring movie filled with unnecessary scenes when the run time is so short but trust me it happens more often than I’d like to remember. Here the character is established or at least what we need to know of them is with this neat bit of storytelling. The rest of the story is implied, which I dug. As long as you establish the basics, here a man seeking revenge, the rest the audience can fill in themselves. Which leads me to my next point.
I find myself making the same complaint about far too many independent movies. I appreciate that folks want to be ambitious but trying to shoot something that you don’t have the resources for guarantees failure. Whether it is budget, locations, or cast you need to acknowledge what you have to work with and then make a movie that fits those limitations. Grimoire is a perfect example of this being done right.
had the cabin location to work with as well as the surrounding woods. Locations
are huge when making an independent movie and this was perfect for the story
being presented. We also have one actor with no dialogue and just the
voiceover. That means not having to coordinate a cast, which can be a pain, as
well as not having to worry about performances. The voiceover can be done after
the fact and recorded in several takes to make sure it works. I even thought
fading to black with just the audio of the big finale was a good choice. Action
is hard to shoot correctly and almost always looks awkward in low budget
Shot composition is excellent
From a creative perspective I also rather liked what I saw. The movie is shot in black and white, which I think more folks should do. In a neat twist ala. William Castle while the movie is in black and white the shots of the grimoire are in color. This isn’t so much jarring as it highlights the importance of the book to the story. This was a neat creative choice that showed the thought put into production. Additionally, the slightly skewed angles that the camera has in some scenes as well as the framing using doors and windows as foreground and background in shots was much appreciated. I don’t think folks understand how badly their projects are hurt with static shots. Here they put the camera in odd spots which makes for a much more visually interesting watch.
My only complaint was the decision to use the fake “scratched” film effect where they digitally add lines and defects to make the movie look like an old print. Not only does this not look natural it has also been done to death. Personally, I’m over it as it feels sort of cheap and trendy at this point. But other than that one minor thing I found Grimoire to be a fun watch. For his first movie Donovan clearly spent a lot of time and effort trying to make the best possible short film that he could. I know he is working on his next short and I can’t wait to check it out. Until then this one is playing a lot of film festivals. If you get the chance to check it out, I recommend you do so. If I get any updates on when and where it is playing I’ll post them here.
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