Date Night (short) Review

One thing we’ve never been shy about here at The Daily Rotation is we love independent film when it’s done right.  I received this film, along with Simone from the director, Jason “Joops” Fragale.  This is the 4th film done under their 386 Films banner, with Simone being the third production.  It’s obvious more planning and more resources were put into this film, a good progression from Simone.

Erin Cline returns (after appearing briefly in Simone), this time as the main character, the nameless female who just wants to stay in for the night, while her friends go out and hit the club.  She catches up on a magazine, and watches a movie.  When her popcorn finishes popping, she is surprised to find a man (David Fuit) sitting on her couch, behaving very oddly.  When he begins a seemingly premeditated spiel, she falls for it and enjoys a night in with her new guest.  Like Simone this film’s ending will explain the mysteries unfolded so far, but unfortunately the payoff, while surprising, didn’t really resonate, as I felt it didn’t tell enough about the main character.

Like his last short, Fragale relies on After Effects style filters and softens the picture a little too much.  I understand the plot significance of the look of those scenes, but it still looked a bit overproduced in a few spots, like Simone.  I also understand that a lot of people are seemingly offended by the ‘digital’ look that results in many HD cameras used in low budget productions, but I feel that trying to hide that look with filters just makes it look worse.

The practical f/x are well done, and convey a certain gruesomeness that no digital effect can achieve, so I’m glad they decided to stick with the wet sticky stuff on set.  The pace moves along fast enough to keep the viewer interested in trying to figure out what’s going on in the film.  This time out, the cinematography is much more steady and accomplished, the framing is  thought out and well executed.  One complaint that carries over from Simone is the fact that this film could still lose a minute or two in the runtime and lose zero story content.  Some of these shots seem to only serve the runtime, and I understand as there is a stigma about really short films.

With that said, it seems a large amount of the movie was made by Fragale and his producer Michael Long, who both wore multiple hats on the production.  People can say what they want to about the content of your films, but for independent productions, the biggest hurdle is often getting everything finished, especially with little help from the outside world.  This type of Do-It-Yourself mentality is what has kept independent filmmaking alive and well over the years, providing alternatives to studio fare.

Fragale proves he has the skill and talent to pull off a feature production at little cost, but I think some money behind him would only benefit his creativity, as it seems the 386 Films team is a small, core group.  The benefit of a few extra knowledgeable hands would go a long way to support Fragale’s obvious passion for filmmaking.  I’m curious to see what they would come up with for a feature film, and I look forward to the possibility.

8.0/10

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