The concept does sound familiar and is a well-worn conceit that has been used and regurgitated time and time again, yet here that idea is realised efficiently well if a little creaky at times. The story plays out the conventions really well and the build-up is strong enough to make the payoff worthwhile. The sequence in the torture chamber certainly recalls the good old gory days of Hostel, which is certainly more than a coincidence seeing as Nedeljakova is involved. However, there is a scene in which the two guys get stoned and that’s creaky and awkward, especially when both of them start babbling on about the possible evolution of man and the rehabilitation of criminal life. Perhaps this could’ve been replaced with a scene of the main female protagonist as a way of further establishing her character.
Cinematographer Luca Mercuri certainly adds a level of visual gloss that belies the tight budget, yet the editing is at times a little bit choppy and even though de Burgh was going for a very tight and claustrophobic feel, the camera angles are occasionally slightly awkward. The performances given by the two male leads are moderately alright if somewhat hammy, particularly the scene where they both get stoned out of their minds, but then again they are completely overshadowed by the real star of the show.
Having first made a big impact as the seductive-yet-deadly Natalya in Eli Roth’s Hostel way back in 2005, Barbara Nedeljakova ended up being somewhat poorly served by roles since that have squandered her amazing talents in films like Pimp, Strippers vs. Werewolves, Isle of Dogs, and Children of the Corn: Genesis. In the case of this, she does get a good role she can finally sink her teeth into, being able to shift from sweet and sexy one second to cold and deadly the next, which was what Barbara did to perfection back during her Hostel days. This reminds us just how amazing an actress she is, and hopefully we’ll see her in more amazing roles after this.
As far as independent short films go, this is one of the better ones out there, despite the creakiness in both the script and editing. It succeeds in putting a new spin on the revenge genre by managing to be effective and atmospheric for the most part, and getting the best out of Barbara Nedeljakova.
JUST ONE DRINK (SHORT) / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ANDREW DE BURGH / STARRING: BARBARA NEDELJAKOVA, ANDREW DE BURGH, ISAAC ANDERSON, HARWOOD GORDON / RELEASE DATE: TBC