Short film review: Some Candid Observations on the Eve of the End of the World
James R | On 24, May 2015
Director: John Howlett
Cast: Theo Barklem-Biggs
Runtime: 15 mins
Watch Some Candid Observations… online in the UK: We Are Colony
Every Sunday, we review a short film and tell you where to watch it. We call it Short Film Sunday.
Some Candid Observations on the Eve of the End of the World follows Tristan, who’s convinced the world is about to be invaded by aliens after receiving “a detailed email” about the assault. And so he dashes around with a video camera, attempting to document humanity before it’s wiped off the face of the earth.
It’s a premise that places a lot of weight on star Theo Barklem-Biggs’ shoulders. He bears the load comfortably, his face jumping between dismay and excitement and mostly landing on confusion. If his slightly mean sense of humour verges on annoying, it’s testament to Barklen-Biggs’ believability: he is completely convincing as the possibly deluded youth, but his self-centred nature (ignoring his family and other people’s feelings) makes him difficult to sympathise with.
After 10 minutes of mild irritation, though, John Howlett’s script takes that hard-to-like trait and uses it as his turning point for the whole narrative: the question, smartly, becomes whether Tristan can become less selfish, rather than whether aliens are about to demolish London. Howlett’s direction keeps the uncertainty of both mysteries balancing, but, not unlike Gareth Edwards’ Monsters, he keeps the focus on the human story not the potential for sci-fi CGI – Adrian Scarborough is a highlight of the strong supporting cast.
The result is the kind of set-up that could easily become a blockbuster, but feels neatly self-contained, with enough unanswered questions to leave it lingering in your mind afterwards. A behind-the-scenes documentary reveals the effort and creativity that went into the project, from the run-down future aesthetic of a Camden estate to the challenges of filming on a bus. The end result is a perfect demonstration of how the biggest ideas can be achieved on the smallest of budgets.
Some Candid Observations on the Eve of the End of the World is available to watch online on We Are Colony, along with a bundle of behind-the-scenes content – including interviews, making-of documentaries, stills, script, concept art and more.