Short Film Review: Intersect

Year: 2019
Runtime: 7 Minutes
Writer/Director: Cristina Siddu and Madeline Doherty
Stars: Jennifer Blair, David Bianco

By Bianca Garner

“Intersect” is a tense, intriguing seven-minute psychological thriller from 25-year-old, Chicago based filmmakers Cristina Siddu and Madeline Doherty. The set-up of “Intersect” may at first seem like your generic, horror ‘Girl Alone at Home’ narrative but Siddy and Doherty take you on an unexpected journey that captivates the viewer. The film’s twist ending will leave you much to puzzle about and speculate. What makes this such an intelligent short film is the fact that much of what takes place is left open to our interpretation, unlike other short horror films, “Intersect” doesn’t rely on gruesome, bloody violent imagery to shock the audience. Instead, the shot of a baby’s car seat in the middle of a road, becomes the scariest thing you’ll ever witness.

We open with the shots of a woman driving, it’s a rainy late afternoon. She plays around with the car’s radio, trying to find a radio station. The snippets of songs and the static already place us on edge, it’s a disoritating combination of noise. As she drives, we go from a busy road, to a deserted country road, seeing the change of scenery through her POV. A mystery is set into motion. Who is this woman? Where is she heading? Is she trying to disappear from the rest of society? Day becomes night. The rain gets heavier.

Then in a brilliant piece of editing, we cut to a close-up of a wine glass and we see the same woman uncorking a bottle of wine. We look through the glass at her, and we have yet to see her properly. We remain alienated from her. Siddu and Doherty place us in the role of a passive, isolated outsider, helpless and powerless. Vivid red wine gets poured into the glass, the imagery here is intense. At first glance, it may not be wine that is being poured…it could be something far more sinister. 

“Unlike other short horror films, “Intersect” doesn’t rely on gruesome, bloody violent imagery to shock the audience.”

The camera pulls focus and we see the woman properly for the first time, she’s in a room bathed in cool blue light. The use of colour throughout “Intersect” is incredibly sophisticated, according to the director’s statement, cool blue is used to represent the character’s sanity but as the events of the film unfolding, the intensity of the blue shifts to a darker, more electric blue colour, until the colour blue morphs into black and all sanity has been lost. 

The woman receives a call from her partner, and all seems normal. Until we cut outside the house, where we see someone (a stranger) standing outside, his back turned away from the camera, and in his hand he clutches what appears to be a photograph. The phone service keeps dropping in and out, thanks to the storm, and already we get the sense the woman’s in danger, before the camera cuts back outside to show the stranger stalking around the outside of the house…getting far too close for comfort. 

All should be okay though, her partner will be arriving soon.Then there’s a knock on the door. We cut to the woman’s feet as she hesitates to decide whether to open the door or not, the camera decides to stay at this level and pans across, following the woman as she slowly makes her way towards the door. Each shot is cleverly choreographed in such a sophisticated manner, that not a single frame feels wasted. The colour of blue has completely gone, with a pale red filling its place. Slowly, she makes her way to the door, we see a close up of her hand going towards the door handle and then….

“This is a very impressive debut film from these two extremely talented directors.”

Well, I don’t want to spoil the rest! Let’s just say “Intersect” challenges our perceived perceptions of who the ‘good guy’ and the ‘bad guy’ is and deconstructs the traditional tropes of the horror genre. The horror genre is a tricky one for any director to take on, especially two young filmmakers just venturing out. However, Siddu and Doherty manage to pull off this difficult task. They present us with a refreshing take on the ‘Stranger Danger’ tale, by focusing on creating mood and atmosphere through the use of sound, colour, cinematography and editing. Each element of the mise-en-scene is cleverly incorporated into creating a chilling, complex and genuinely unnerving psychological thriller. 

This is a very impressive debut film from these two extremely talented directors. Hopefully, they can expand this story into a feature length film, because there’s certainly more that could be explored here. In fact, all the crew are extremely talented (special mention to DP Yijun Pan, the assistant DP Anh Vo, and script supervisor Rou Wang) and the performances by Jennifer Blair and David Bianco are also noteworthy. “Intersect” is certainly a film that leaves the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. 

You can find out more about the film here: intersectfilm.com

IG: @Intersectfilm Twitter: @intersectfilm

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