I headed out to the Winchester last night for a special screening of the new short film “case closed”. The cast and filmmaker were on hand, and the films creator, Andrew Sgambati gave a short introduction before the movie ran. I stuck around until after the credits rolled (remember, there just might be a special little something after the end credits! It even happens with short films!). After the lights came up, he returned to the stage and spoke a little bit about the movie he just screened. There may also have been a round of “Happy Birthday to you” sung.
Case Closed is a fan film set in the Batman universe, though if you’re expecting the Dark Knight you’re going to be disappointed. What we have is a narrative heavily influenced from the Dark Knight trilogy – particularly the interrogation sequence in the second film… The set up is familiar, the Joker has done something horrific, and the plan is already set in motion even though he is in handcuffs.
What is interesting here is that the story is told from the perspective of a detective on the case. This has the unsettling effect of making it feel more personal. Usually we see the Joker’s crimes from the perspective of Batman, or the Joker himself. They are statistics, not tragedies. In this case the peril feels very real because the detective’s son is missing. The tragedy is much closer to home.
Our detective by the way, played by Scott Laing, is the real star here. Laing’s impressive performance grounds the piece, which is beautifully shot and composed. With the exception of a brief appearance from Harley Quinn, Laing’s character is the most engaging one on the screen.
You can actually see Andrew Sgambati’s writing has captured the voice of the Joker quite well here. The dialogue is crisp, it rings true… unfortunately his performance doesn’t live up to his script. I appreciate that Sgambati doesn’t fall into the trap that a lot of actors do with the Joker – that is to play him big. It’s easy to go over the top with the Joker and got completely off the rails without even realizing it… We go the opposite direction here – with a delivery that feels flat. It’s a shame, because he does capture the physicality of the character and the look is well chosen, but I need a little more expression and subtext in his line delivery. I’m hoping to see him grow into the role as these films progress…and I am expecting to see these films continue. the movie itself ends with the announcement that “The Joker and Harley Quinn will return.” I find it interesting that batman may still be absent. It’s a curious choice, but not an outrageous one. The grounded portrayal of these characters makes introducing the hero dressed up in a Bat costume a little more difficult of a prospect and I can see why they would shy away from it.
I’m about 20 years removed from my own film making days, but I remember the Premier night of Ron’s Big Adventure and I could feel that same electricity in the air at the Winchester last night. The film is on YouTube, and their goal is 10,000 views. Head up there and check it out, and support our hometown filmmakers!