Monday, June 18, 2007
The Bet (2007)
A woman lies in a dingy hallway between two apartment doors. She is bound and gagged, with confusion clouding her eyes. Debris clutters the derelict hallway as she tries to figure out why she is there and how she got there. Suddenly, the left hand door opens and the woman is dragged into a man’s apartment. He drops her on the floor, and continues watching television, where two puppets are delivering the news. After exactly one minute, he picks her up by her ankles again and drags her back into the hall. Door number two opens and another man carries her into his apartment. She goes back and forth between the two apartments every minute. At each brief apartment visit, we learn more about the woman and her mysterious past as well as the two men and exactly what "the bet" entails.
For a low budget short film clocking in at only 19 minutes The Bet looks absolutely amazing. The film quality is so great that when I first put the film in the DVD player, I thought it was a big-budget production. Director of Photography Kurt Rauf did an amazing job as the film actually looks like it was shot on 35mm. The mood of the film is immediately set by the low lighting and dark, grimy look of the film. The foreboding atmosphere is intensified by the eerie and punctuated score. What makes this film even more incredible is that The Bet is co-writer/director Michael Dunn's first film! If this is a taste for what's to come from this filmmaker, I'll be the first in line for his next film.
The acting in the film was top-notch, with Lou Diamond and Walt Turner doing an amazing job with each of their characters. As the bound and gagged woman is shuttled between apartments, the layers of each character unfold, revealing more and more about the two. Diamond and Turner do an excellent job of portraying their characters' depth in the short amount of time. Courtney Gardner-Stavros, playing the woman who's fate is in the hands of the two men, conveys pain and confusion without having to say a word. Even the two actors (Mat Planet and Shannon Sarver) who give life to the puppets on the newscast do a tremendous job.
Director Dunn says that the idea for the film came from his wife's reoccurring nightmare. From there, Dunn wrote a short story based on the nightmare and went on to co-write a screenplay with Chris Smith to turn into a short, low-budget film. Dunn and co-writer Smith have crafted a well-paced, intelligent, eerie and intriguing short film. The mysterious hallway and its two gambling inhabitants, flashes of the woman's past and the ending all point to a far "bigger picture" perspective. Though the film's fantastic ending is open for interpretation, it contains a supernatural element that led me to believe the two men were much greater and more important than they first seemed. They hold the key to people's fates and gamble with human souls. I will leave it at that, because I don't want to give too much away, but it has an ending that left me awestruck.
The Bet just had its world premiere at the CineVegas film festival on June 13th. Look for it at other film festivals soon and go see it if you have a chance.
The Bet comes highly recommended as "a sure thing" from yours truly!