Richard Powell’s FAMILIAR starts out like with a bit of a low-key PSYCHO feeling. An everyman, John Dodd (Robert Nolan), is sick of his humdrum life plots to get rid of his wife and make a break for freedom. The voice in his head provides an inner monologue to his point of view of his all-too-typical lifestyle and gradually becomes more and more sinister over the course of this short’s 24 minute runtime. What he’s doing feels completely natural and logical to him at the time, up to an including when he poisons his wife (Astrida Auza) to get rid of the bundle of joy that she springs on him right before he’s ready to leave her. After this incident we find out that John might not necessarily be under an influence other than his own.
The pacing in this movie is great. The slow build to the gory finish takes the audience on a ride that they probably didn’t expect. Most horror movies rely on quick cuts and jarring reveals to scare the viewers but FAMILIAR uses more traditional cinematography and to build suspense and really get the audience invested in the characters. The effects at the end were entirely reminiscent of VIDEODROME in the best of ways.
In the last few moments we are taken completely out of John’s head and shown the true villain. Or are we? Is this all a dream? Is everything in the mind of this troubled man? Are the acts he commits entirely of his own doing? The movie leaves a few questions if you decide to go deeper into it, and leaves you just as satisfied if you take it as what is presented.
FAMILIAR is a great example of slow-burn horror mixed with intriguing story. The only complaint, and one that I’m sure would have been remedied if the flick was a feature, was that it would have been good to include more of John’s daughter, Jordan (Cathryn Hostick) in the movie. The director might have been able to build even more suspense if the daughter was somehow onto her father’s evil transformation. Staying pretty much within John’s mind is a great device for this short though, and definitely left me wondering what’s next for the director.
FILM SYNOPSIS - Through a series of tragic events, a middle aged man grows to suspect the negative impulses plaguing his mind may not be his own.