16th Mar2018

Starburst Festival 2018: ‘Dead Meet’ Review

by Philip Rogers

Stars: Francesca Louise White, Reuben Williams, Dean Williams, Richard Usher, Chris McGlynn | Written and Directed by Daniel J. Brant


Cleo (Francesca Louise White) is an assassin and has been for years, but it’s a lonely job; because although you get to travel and meet people, it’s usually to put a bullet in them.  Tired of being alone Cleo turns to internet dating and arranges a meeting with a Ryan (Reuben Williams), a nice normal guy who is completely unaware of what Cleo does for a living. When her next assigned target happens to be in the same pub in which her date has been arranged, she decides to take the opportunity to try and balance the two. But in trying to keep her work and social life apart, she soon learns a valid lesson it’s not a good idea to mix business with pleasure. If making a good impression on a first date wasn’t hard enough, completing a kill can make it even harder, because when things start to go wrong, they can quickly begin to escalate.

Dead Meet is a clever short from writer and director Daniel J. Brant, which asks the question what does a hit person do when they get lonely? An ideal solution could be dating someone of the same profession, which comes with its own dangers, however explaining to someone that you are a professional killer is not the easiest start to any normal relationship.

With a running time just over 20 minutes Dead Meet doesn’t seem to waste any time, before the action starts, and this is where the film is at its strongest. Focused around the films lead Francesca in the title role as the hit person Cleo, who is naturally suited to the action sequences where she proves to be more than apt both in the hand to hand combat, utilising her martial arts background, and when using firearms. The action sequences are played with plenty of humour and remined me of the eccentric stylings of Robert Rodriguez, most notably his action film Desperado (1995) which is the second entry in the El Mariachi Trilogy. The film even incorporating some of the Mexican acoustic guitar sound the soundtrack during a fight scene in the public toilets.

The action in Dead Meet may have been transferred from a saloon in Mexico, to small social club bar in the UK, with just a fraction of the budget, but this doesn’t stop director Daniel J. Brant from having fun. There is unarmed fight scene in the toilets between Cleo and her target Anderson (Dean Williams) which showcases some of Francesca’s fighting abilities, but it is the final shootout which suddenly takes the film to another level. The action quickly escalates in the quiet pub with armed assailants coming at Cleo from all angles, but undeterred she meets them head on with guns blazing in each hand. It is an impressive action sequence which is skilfully executed thanks to some clever editing and a kickass performance from the films lead Francesca.

In addition to the comedy which is naturally created with the situation, the film manages to inject some additional humour from one of the characters who we don’t see. In a nod to Charlies Angels, Cleo receives calls regarding her work from a contact known as Charlie (voiced by Richard Usher).  The calls from Charlie help to break up the scenes as he enquires about both her hit and the date. It adds a subtle humour to the situation which you could relate too, in a unconventional way it is like a friend who you have arranged to call you on a date in case it goes wrong, although this could have more disastrous consequences.

The concept works perfectly as short, but I feel that it could have benefited from a slightly longer running time, if only to allow a more natural development of the Cleo and Ryan on their first date. With so much action crammed into the short running time, it feels as though the relationship aspect of the film was somewhat side-line.

Dead Meet is action-packed and manages to fit a lot into the short running time. Although I would like to have seen the characters developed more, that doesn’t take anything away from the enjoyment of the overall film, which is entertaining from start to finish.

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