Vesper (2017) ★★★★☆
Humpo Show Rating | 8.0
Starring: Götz Otto, Agnes Godey, Keyvan Sheikhlishahi
Director: Keyvan Sheikhalishahi
Plot Summary: Marge Ofenbey shuts herself away from all in a house to flee her sinister and manipulative husband. She asks her nephew Christian for help. But, Christian will soon discover the secrets hidden by Marge and Walter. What are Walter’s true intentions? Why is Marge haunted by stars? (IMDb)
(I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to watch Keyvan’s short film)
Marge is haunted by the presence (real or imagined?) of her husband Walter. Her earnest nephew Christian, recently returned from his studies in Finland, arrives at Marge’s house where she confides in him. The 23-minute tense thriller unfolds in fascinating fashion, with the ambiguity surrounding both the protagonists continuing for the entire duration. The close camera shots showcase the eerily lit interiors, stairway encounters, and the suspenseful atmosphere which has a foreboding theme prevalent from the opening seconds.
Vesper is a multi-layered, subtle and intriguing short film that does not show it’s hand too early – the film insists that the audience make their own assumptions on whether Marge is imagining the threat or not. The lingering figure of Walter (Otto) oozes the same menace and danger that Sharon Stone managed in Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct. That is perhaps an unlikely comparison in terms of actors, but the comparison in directors is not. I can definitely visualise the influences on Sheikhalishahi’s direction and style – there is undoubtedly some Hitchcockian style in terms of storytelling, and David Lynch vibes in the darkness that the film exudes.
This is my first French psychological thriller, and it will categorically be the first of many. Along with the Hitchcock, Lynch and Verhoeven vibes I took, the film was reminiscent of the hugely successful Scandinavian crime dramas that have become binge-watched by millions. The music is another success of the film, it complimented the narrative exceptionally well, the sense of intrigue and danger is unwavering. Sheikhalishahi has produced a fine short film, which featured at the London Independent Film Awards, and I for one would love to see his next forays into directing.
The Humpo Show | Richard