(This is Phantasmagoria short film review, which is a Tamil mind-bending short film that mixes dream and reality)
*turn on English subtitle in the caption
The Tamil film industry has been on a rise steadily together with the Hindi film industry which made up much of the Bollywood. And among all these, there are often directors that are less well known worldwide. Phantasmagoria is a film directed by one of these directors, MJ Arun Babu.
The film tries to explore the concept that the reality is actually an illusion itself. And it does so using as few characters and production value. It features actors Vignesh Shanmugam, Manoj and Nizam as the main characters that are also not as well known outside India.
Will this short film surprise us with its take on blending of reality and illusion concept? Well, read on the Phantasmagoria short film review below to find out!
When a script writer realises that his script seems to based on a dream that he mistook for reality, he strives to find out the truth. But what will he discover when the line between both is getting blurred as he persists to investigate?
Phantasmagoria Short Film Review
The premise is actually not very complicated but is based on the common theme on reality vs illusion. To be fair, this theme has been overused in some other films in Hollywood for past few years. Though it’s not as often as the superhero genre, it is still a relatively common one in science fiction or other movies.
premise tries to stay simple to the audience, and yet manages to introduce more mystery as the film goes
What I like about Phantasmagoria is that it knows that it cannot have very complex storyline or it will confuse the viewers, or distract them from the theme. The story starts off with a mysterious mood as we are introduced to the main character only after showing us a few scenes of other unknown people.
Somehow, I felt that there is a foretelling in the story in the beginning when the main character Vicky is asleep on the table. His storyboard seems to hide some clues as to what’s gonna happen in the short film. Then the premise introduces us to more characters and how they might be linked, but still retain the mystery. I must say I’m pretty impressed with how the premise tries to stay simple to the audience, and yet manages to introduce more mystery as the film goes.
Though as usual with this type of genre, some can still get it confused as there are many things left unexplained at the end. Perhaps it would be better if the premise can be kept tighter and end with a bigger bang with some subtle explanations.
Pacing is actually quite good as I am hooked by the way the film flows from the beginning till the end. The director knows when to make the scene fast or slow depending on the story and mood. I do not feel bored in any moments in this 14 mins long short film, which I must assure you is pretty common for me.
With that said, some of the pacing in the middle can be a bit jarringly fast, to the point that I need to rewatch some of them in order to understand what’s going on.
As for the effects, they are pretty good for the production value. The effects are never complicated but they are used cleverly and effectively for the scenes. Simple effect such as glitches, transitions and others help to keep our attention and also make the film flows smoothly from one scene to another. There is also no overuse of effects that other films can prone to have, and this earns another brownie point from me.
That said, some of the masking for the effect could be cleaned up a bit more as it can be quite obvious in some scenes.
There are essentially only 1 main character with 3 other supporting characters. But what makes this short film different, I feel, is that essentially there are no main characters at all. As some of the characters are main characters in the premise itself, they have thus become interlinked in a way that is a bit more unique.
The main character is pretty interesting in his tenacity to discover the truth behind the Phantasmagoria. Though he doesn’t really stand out in terms of appearances. That honour goes to the antagonist instead, who has more flair as the bad guy that makes it more memorable.
The other supporting character such as the supporting director friend is equally filled with personalities. Mr Z is not really though.
The soundtrack is pretty Bollywood action style and it is amazing at delivering. They give off an action cum mysterious feel to the whole short film. Though none of the soundtrack truly stands out like some Hollywood classics, they are still effective in elevating the atmosphere with the intended mood.