At first, there doesn’t seem to be anything extraordinary about John Dodd. He is a middle-aged family man going through a mid-life crisis who hates his job, resents his needy teenage daughter, is annoyed with his doting wife, and despises the seemingly endless rut that is his daily life. Right from the start, actor Robert Nolan comes off with such believability that one cannot help but think that Richard Powell’s newest horror short, Familiar, is going to be pretty boring. I cannot emphasize enough how utterly wrong one can be, as pretty soon this flick kicks into overdrive.
John’s wife (played by Astrida Auza) drops a major bomb on the guy, informing him that she is pregnant. This lights the fuse of the already emotionally unstable time bomb that is John’s fragile psyche, and he begins listening to a voice in his head, and now it wants him to commit murder. Has John totally snapped? Will he murder his family? Is the voice he hears really his own subconscious?
With the rash of murder/suicide cases around the country of seemingly ordinary fathers who do the unspeakable, I was prepared for a very dark turn, and was relieved that Familiar is more of a David Cronenberg film, inspired in part by William Friedkin’s Bug, rather than something taken directly out of the headlines.
The gore in this film is plentiful, and done so with mind-blowing practical effects. I can assure you that by the end of this 24-minute nail-biter, you will have cringed at least two times. To me, that’s two more than any 90 minute feature can do nowadays, in an age of boring 3D PG-13 remakes, reboots, and re-imaginings.
The cinematography is top-notch, with the camera work having a graceful fluidity, in contrast to the madness and underlying theme. The acting is superb. I would love to see Nolan in a lot more roles. I truly think that if The Shining were to be remade again, Nolan is the guy. Auza was wonderfully sympathetic, and did a fantastic job. Hell, I wanted to climb into the screen and give her a big loving hug. Cathryn Hostick played the teenage daughter Jordan with aplomb, and I wish we could have seen more of her acting abilities, but I totally understood that it would have detracted from the main storyline.
I implore you to give Familiar a watch. Investors, take note: give these guys even one million, and I’m certain that the feature they put out will outshine most, if not all of what is currently stinking up the box office today.
Familiar was Written and Directed by Richard Powell, Produced by Zach Green for Fatal Pictures, Michael Jari Davidson was Co-Producer and Cinematographer, Special Makeup Effects by Ryan Louagie, Carlos Henriques, and Steven Dawley (aka The Butcher Shop).