Small Talk is a short film written and directed by Nicole Witte Solomon about a young woman who discovers she has a deadly telekinetic power. The film opens on the young woman, Al, working as a temp manning the front desk of a recording studio. After being pestered by a man while working she appears to get a searing headache and the film cuts to a few weeks prior.
The story unfolds to reveal that Al, who worked as a phone sex operator prior to her temp job, had a series of Johns who died violently after speaking with her. As the film continues, we see that Al’s headaches seem to be linked with spontaneous head explosions, and that death only seems to come to her more deviant clients. (Potential rapists, pedophiles, etc.)
The storytelling and pacing is well done, which tends to be an accomplishment for horror films less than an hour long. There aren’t many short films that come to mind that feel complete at the end. Though, if you’re the type of person who requires all loose ends to be tied up, this is probably not the film for you. That isn’t a shortcoming of Small Talk, but is the nature of the beast as far as short movies go.
The cinematography reminds me a great deal of Contracted, in that the shots are bright and relatively upbeat in the beginning. The camera work looking normal helps to sell that the strange events of the film are relatively new. It feels very much like the viewer is having this happen alongside Al, even though they’re treated to the pieces of the puzzle a bit earlier than the protagonist.
Manini Gupta plays Al, the young woman who is struggling to make ends meet. She has resorted to phone sex work, but is falling behind in her rent. The scenes where Al (Gupta) is portraying her alter-ego Darla – the phone sex vixen with ‘long blond hair down to…’ should resonate with anyone who has worked customer service or over the telephone. People are ruder when they’re interacting over the telephone, or with customer service staff in general. This says nothing of the disrespect people feel they can get away with when dealing with sex workers, so those scenes felt genuine. They made it easy to root for certain men to meet their end.
Overall, it was fun to watch. The concept was fresh and the execution was well done. The effects were probably the weakest element of the movie, but until the last death scene they did a decent job of selling each murder. (In their defense, selling head implosion is difficult on most indie film budgets.)
To learn more about this project or to purchase it for yourself visit the website at http://www.smalltalkmovie.com/