Short Film Review: Carga

Year: 2018
Runtime: 19 minutes
Director: Yad Deen
Writers: Yad Deen and Chesco Simón
Stars: Tania Watson, Agustín Mateo, Rawand Khalid Saeed, Youssef Osman

By Bianca Garner

Creating a short film is a completely different feat than filming a feature. With a feature film, you have the luxury of time in order to build up plot and characters whereas with a short every second counts. Over the years, I have seen many short films and filmmakers attempt the horror genre and failing. Many forgo the plot and character for a ‘cheap’ and lazy jump scare and a complicated plot twist. Yad Deen‘s “Carga” is a perfect example of how to use the short film format to weave together an electrifying, tense and dramatic short narrative which doesn’t sacrifice on character or background.

We fully believe that the events taking place in the film could happen in reality. The horror of “Carga” works because it’s not supernatural, but human. The tension builds up slowly, as the narrative unfolds and plays out in a natural manner which doesn’t feel forced. Not a single shot is wasted here, a testament to Deen’s direction and the flawless script by Deen and fellow writer Chesco Simón. Coming in at just under 20 minutes in length, this is a film that maintains the tense atmosphere throughout until the film’s satisfying ending.

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Tania Watson and Agustín Mateo in Carga (2018)

“Yad Deen’s “Carga” is a perfect example of how to use the short film format to weave together an electrifying, tense and dramatic short narrative which doesn’t sacrifice on character or background.”

The film centres around two Western filmmakers Marta and Juan (Tania Watson and Agustín Mateo) who have decided to investigate remote abandoned cigarette factory in Iraq in order to uncover its secrets.  Knowing that their presence is likely to be unwelcome by the authorities the pair place their trust in their driver (Rawand Khalid Saeed). Tensions begin to rise when they go even further off the map and have a run-in with a gatekeeper (Youssef Osman).

In perhaps the film’s greatest scene, we watch helplessly as the gatekeeper questions the couple, the barrier of language and cultural customs proving to be difficult and throwing up more obstacles for this couple. Gema Briones‘ camerawork is used to great effect by having the camera linger on Watson’s body, showing us just how vulnerable she is. The clever use of tight close-ups adds to the tension and suspension, to the point that it’s almost unbearable as we hold our breath in anticipation. Briones also uses wide shots to capture the vastness of the landscape, which helps to illustrate the remoteness and isolation of the location.

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Youssef Osman in Carga (2018)

“Despite being a short film with a low-budget, “Carga” looks slick and well-polished, with high production values, strong performances and outstanding cinematography.”

The two main actors deliver strong performances especially Watson who is the driving force for the film’s final act. Watson presents us with a character whose good intentions unwittingly lead her into a deeply troubling situation in which she has no real control of the outcome. The film becomes a race against time as she becomes hunted in this strange and unusual environment that she now finds herself in. Without giving much away, there’s a heart-wrenching scene which involves Watson and Mateo’s characters that illustrates the actors’ talent and ability.

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Tania Watson in Carga (2018)

Mateo is also noteworthy as Watson’s partner, who is supportive but cannot hide his own suspensions regarding the driver. He asks Marta why she trusts him, only for her to cooly reply back with “I trusted you on our first date”. It is this ‘banter’ between the two which helps to build-up our belief that the two people on-screen are a genuine couple. The film begins with an intimate exchange between Marta and Juan as they discuss Marta’s previous visits to dangerous places such as Afghanistan and Chernobyl before they depart on their journey, by starting the film with this scene it helps the audience instantly become invested in the characters and their struggle later on the film.

Despite being a short film with a low-budget, “Carga” looks slick and well-polished, with high production values, strong performances and outstanding cinematography. The clever use of genre-blending helps to maintain our suspense and interest in the film, as “Carga” begins as drama, before transforming into a thriller/horror which leaves us on the edge of our seat. This decision to have a hybrid of genres may frustrate some and at times it does become slightly confusing to follow. However, “Carga” is such a thrill-ride, with a very compelling ending which turns everything on its head that it’s one of the most enjoyable and well-crafted short films that I have come across in a long time.

5 stars

 

 

 

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