Doyle (Halsey) has died, laid on his squalid bed with a needle in his arm. Yet he wakes up, pulls a tooth from his mouth, and then confronted by an enigmatic stranger, Alexander (Rendino). He tells Doyle that he will be guided through the afterlife if he does a job for him. Doyle considers himself a loser; an ex-soldier suffering from PTSD whose only reason for existing is heroin. Unfortunately, despite his best intentions, things may not be what they seem.
Within the eighteen minutes of the film, we are sent on a horrific journey into the dark underbelly of the world of a junkie. Doyle isn’t repentant of his lifestyle, but is dismayed to find out he’s overdosed on a lethal strain of his favourite vice. However, when he realises the drug he’s taken has been laced, and is lethal, he becomes more focused, particularly because a close friend also succumbs.
Halsey is believable as Doyle, and although the character of a smacked-up junkie may not be the most glamourous or even easy to take to, the portrayal of the torment that has brought him to this place is relatable and sympathetic - even if we’re given all his backstory in one info-bomb (the restrictions of the short film format on show there, unfortunately). One feels this is a story that could comfortably benefit from being expanded to feature-length. Despite a limited budget, the look of the film is suitably grimy and atmospheric, with the use of restricted locations providing a claustrophobic and intense mood. The cross-genre approach allows the film to be enjoyed without being pigeon-holed. It’s certainly worth tracking down, or catching if it plays a local festival.
JUNKIE HEAVEN / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: STEVE SAGE GOLDBERG / SCREENPLAY: LEE KOLINSKY / STARRING: JOSEPH A. HALSEY, SAL RENDINO, MYLES HUMPHUS / RELEASE DATE: TBC