Are You Rei? Movie Review
Written by Steve Pattee
A Bublenutz Production Film
It's entirely my fault, Eric. I could have done something, but I just stood there. – Sam
Directed by Jason Patfield
Written by Jason Patfield, based on a short story by Tom Fernandez
2007, Region 1, 22 minutes, Not Rated
Colleen Miller as Sam
Anthony Brawner as Peter
Recently I revisited Dreadville, a town I have a love/hate relationship with. This time, the trip proved to be a little more enjoyable than the previous two jaunts.
"Welcome to Dreadville" is an ongoing series of shorts written and directed by Jason Patfield…and released out of order. The first movie released, Distraught, is actually part three of the series, and my first introduction to this tiny, fucked up Chicago suburb. Distraught's story was very sound, but the execution was abysmal. Bad acting, coupled with novice camera work and piss poor effects took away any pluses the story had.
But Patfield pressed, and threw me a second movie, part two, in the "Welcome to Dreadville" universe: Addict. Again, a good story was brought down by the execution of the movie, but it was obvious Patfield was learning his craft. While there were a few instances of unnecessary camera tricks, and one ugly special effect (and by ugly, I don't mean disturbing), the acting was bumped a notch, and the camera work was getting better.
So, when part one, Are You Rei?, landed in my mailbox a while back, I was curious to see what Patfield had to offer me this time. I'm happy to say it's another improvement.
In Are You Rei?, a woman (Colleen Miller) is dealing with a psychiatrist (Anthony Brawner) to overcome extreme issues of guilt and pain over losing her daughter. It doesn't get much deeper thant that as Rei is only 22 minutes, but it's a quick 22 minutes, and gone are 99% of the distractions from the first two Dreadville trips I made.
Rei has no "trick" camera shots that hampered its prior two entries. Nor are there any attempts at special effects that are above the skill of the person creating them. As a matter of fact, there are very little special effects in Rei. A tiny bit of sleight of hand photography, maybe — as in, did I just see that? — but Patfield and company stick to what is their biggest strength; the story. And it's a good call.
I've said from the beginning that Patfield tells a good yarn, and Rei is no exception. It's not a new story, it's not even that original, but it's entertaining. And, like its predecessors, it seems to tie into a bigger picture that I am not quite seeing… yet. Also, like the others, the tale's ending should be expected, but just quite isn't. Patfield really does a fantastic job by giving you all of the information to foresee the ending of these Dreadville shorts, but even if you have got it figured out, there always seems to be something you just missed on the first go around.
Technically, Patfield is improving with each release, as it is obvious he is learning from each outing. As mentioned, in Rei he refrained from using technique and effects above his skill and/or budget, and the movie gains from that. There's still a learning curve — blocking shots comes immediately to mind, as there seems to be very little of that — but overall this is a vast improvement from the first film. This is far from Patfield's best work, because he hasn't done that yet. It's not right around the corner, but it's definitely on the map, and if Are You Rei? is any indication, Patfield will get there in no time.