23rd Mar2014

‘Done In’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Guy Henry, Gordon Styles | Written and Directed by Adam Stephen Kelly

done-in

Adam Stephen Kelly, who began his career as a film critic (you may know him from Screenjabber.com or as BritGeek on AICN) turns his hand to film making with the short film Done In – which follows Harry, played by Guy Henry, as we watch him slowly pen a letter…

I get asked to review a lot of short films here on Nerdly so more often than not it takes something special to grab my attention – in some case it’s the writer or director, in others it the story. But in the case of Done In the first thing that grabbed my attention about this particular short was the cast.

You see star Guy Henry is a hero of mine as his TV “show” shaped my love of horror as a teenager. That show was Dr. Terror’s Vault of Horror, the classic BBC horror strand that saw Henry, under a mountain of makeup, present classic horror movies to an unsuspecting BBC audience. Including a teenage me… It was Dr. Terror that introduced me to gothic horror, broadening my horror outlook to more than just the slasher movies and Full Moon flicks that I rented from the local video shop. And it was Dr. Terror’s Vault of Horror that gave me and my friends something to talk about at school – an experience that clearly influenced my current love of writing about horror movies online.

But enough about my love of Guy Henry’s classic BBC character, what about Done In? Well the short sees Henry gently narrating a letter as he reminisces about the passing of time, the fragility of life and the passing of his wife, slowly revealing that the “letter” is actually a suicide note. Henry’s dulcet tones are matched to poignant glimpses of old photos and mementos of the past – with some fantastic cinematography from Richard Osborne, building a real sense of empathy for Henry’s character – you really feel for his inner turmoil.

Then there’s the twist.

I’m not going to spoil anything that happens in the last minute of this brief eight-minute short but it’s a credit to writer/director Adam Stephen Kelly and his actor Guy Henry that nothing is ever signposted. Kelly’s script is spot on, capturing the dark mood and the quietness that one would expect in this particular situation; whilst Henry’s performance is a subtle one, brilliantly conveying emotion through his body language, saying much more with even a small smile than with any words.

There are rare occasions when script and actor come together in such a succinctly perfect way. Such is Done In. It’s hard to believe that such an interesting (and twisted) tale can be told in a mere 8 minutes and with essentially only one cast member but Kelly achieves it, showing that a low budget British short film can be just as powerful as a big budget Oscar-baiting Hollywood blockbuster…

A superb, and chilling, way to spend eight minutes. If you get the chance I urge you to check out Done In as soon as you can.

***** 5/5

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