Spotlight: The Observer Effect

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Director: Garret Walsh

Starring: Vanessa Emme, Patrick O’Brien, Brendan Sheehan

Review Author: Tony

Shortly after our last review of the brilliant short film, Homecoming, we were lucky to have been spotted by another Irish filmmaker eager happy to involve us with their work. It delights us that Spotlight is serving it’s intended purpose and allowing us to reach out to talented filmmakers both domestic and abroad. The quality of the short films we’ve seen so far is fantastic and Gerret Walsh’s, Observer Effect, is no different picking up awards galore at film festivals across the world.

Co-Workers Cian and Maeve leave work and walk home together in a cheery mood but unbeknownst to them an unkept and malevolent-looking man follows closely behind. This ominous man seems obsessed with the pair and has strange visions of a violent encounter with the pair. As these visions begin to come to fruition, all is not as it seems as events will forever change their lives.

We are being purposely vague for the synopsis as to reveal any more would go into spoiler territory and lessen the impact of a superb short film that thrives in a series of twists and turns. There’s a great central mystery to The Observer Effect that unfolds within the first half of its 18-minute runtime, but it’s what follows that really hits home. It’s frustrating that we can’t delve into the plot but this short film will be worth the wait.

Instantly there’s a sinister and ominous tone with a thumping score and menacing shots of the woods and a shady figure. The tone builds a sense of unease with the omnipresent sense of danger lurking. I was genuinely left guessing as to whether I was watcher a thriller or a horror film.

What really complements the tone is a subtle but effective cinematography that relishes the dark and uses lighting and shadows to hammer home Walsh’s vision. This is the most impressed I’ve been with the use of lighting in a short film in a long time and it further builds my respect for this underrated medium. The production design is equally impressive with a very impressive set on display in the latter half of the short.

The Observer Effect has already become an award-winning short across multiple festivals and it truly deserves all the praise it gets and more. Filmmakers like Garret Walsh exemplify how a shortened runtime is no barrier to effective storytelling, tone, cinematography, and entertainment and we are certain he’ll be spearheading plenty more quality projects in the future.

You can follow the short film’s Twitter page for news and updates @TOEFilm.

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