Gordon (Nolan) is planning a meeting online with someone who he has been corresponding. The ‘play date’ that is could well be something innocent; parents often pair up their children to enjoy some quality time together. However, the look on Gordon’s face and his demeanour betray his intentions. And when we see his son as they are in the car on their road trip, he is clearly above the age of backyard games and playing with toys. They meet Gordon’s ‘friend’ in a diner, and Denis (Oberst, Jr.) is a creepy, ultra-sleazy chap, but he’s incredibly confident and controls the situation with ease. When they get back to Denis’ house, though he seems keen to get on with the intended arrangements; something which Gordon appears to be having second thoughts.
Reviewing short films is always difficult as one has to be mindful not to reveal so much that it ruins the viewing for the subsequent audience. What we will say is that Heir manages to subvert the expectation and deliver a powerful, sickening, yet fully absorbing film. The clear intention of the men is a disgusting one to contemplate, and that fear is what keeps the anxiety of the situation so riveting. The reality is something very outlandish, if equally as disturbing as the initial thoughts.
With a sparse score and impressive cinematography, not to mention some striking practical visual effects, Heir exudes an oppressive mood and – thanks in no small part to the outstanding acting of both Oberst Jr. (never has he been so repulsively compelling) and Nolan – frighteningly realistic (no mean feat considering a certain element).
Fitting so much into a mere thirteen minute running time takes some skill, and Powell has successfully created an atmosphere of apprehension, terror and nausea that makers of many feature films would envy. The director has made quite an impact with his earlier shorts, Worm and Familiar, and Heir is likely to be a festival hit but is also going to be his short-form swan song, as full-length features beckon. We can’t wait to see the results.
INFO: CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: RICHARD POWELL / SCREENPLAY: RICHARD POWELL / STARRING: ROBERT NOLAN, BILL OBERST, JR., MATEO D’AVINO / RELEASE DATE: TBC