If we didn't know up front that writer/director Iain Cash's new short film Chapel of Rest is a dramatic short, we could easily be forgiven for expecting this unusual set-up to have the making of a light-hearted, comedic romp. After all, this 14-minute short opens to the scene of a priest, Father Jones (Sidney Kean), having been called from out-of-town to perform a funeral despite completely lacking awareness of the identity of the deceased. He is joined by Neil (Kyle Brookes) from the funeral home, their seemingly light back-and-forth banter slowly revealing there is much more going on in Chapel of Rest than we ever expected.
Chapel of Rest is a tour-de-force for its co-leads, both Kean and Brookes practically playing a chess match with their dueling dialogue and bringing this story to life in remarkable ways. Kean's Father Jones is a kindly old man, really, an elder priest who once served a parish in this town but has since moved in. As Neil, Brookes is a revelation who seems like he'd be equally comfortable in the village pub or at the family table. Brookes gives a disciplined performance here that is essential to the film's building narrative and success in reeling us in and keeping us hooked.
For those who know my background, there's little denying that Chapel of Rest is the kind of film that will resonate with me and I can't imagine it won't completely click with indie film fest audiences. Tim Follin's lensing for the film practically creates its own narrative as we transition from what seems like a fairly benign scenario to something far more tense and suspenseful. Follin's ability to capture facial expressions and the physicality of the relational acting between both actors is quite remarkable.
Music by Nicolas Iaconis IV builds along with the film itself and you can't help but feel the years of history within this chapel and potentially between these two men.
It would be easy to discuss the story that unfolds in Chapel of Rest, though this is a film best experienced for oneself without a clue of the story to unfold. The film is destined to be a memorable fest darling of a film and it'll be a pleasure to watch the film's festival journey continue to unfold. The film had its premiere at U.K.'s Beeston Film Festival and likely has a significant fest journey ahead of it.
Here's hoping that Chapel of Rest makes it stateside because this is a film that most definitely deserves to be seen far and wide.