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The Independent Critic

Tali Custer, Katie Sah, Andrew Lawton, Michael Schiffman, Daniel Stagliano, James C. Stewart, Kevin Gilmartin, Yale Goodman
Andrew Lawton
18 Mins.


 "Couch Surfer" Will Render You Powerless to its Humor  
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You may not completely expect that writer/director Andrew Lawton's 18-minute short film Couch Surfer was shot on location in New York given the abundant Aussie presence, plus a New Zealander, mostly owing to the delightfully friendly Katie's (Tali Custer) mistake of inviting in one Aussie backpacker in need of a place to crash. The lone Aussie backpacker multiplies faster than those dastardly gremlins and before long Katie's apartment has been taken over by Foster's Beer and several men who won't let the party end. Can she find a way to get them to leave before her fiancé returns from a business trip?

Couch Surfer is a familiar yet humorous little story that mostly flies by thanks to the group of rambunctious Aussies and a tonally spot-on performance by Custer, who manages to embody both completely intelligent and incredibly gullible while getting laughs along the way. The film's stand-out scene, at least for this writer, is the scene involving Kevin Gilmartin's priest, though it's a scene best left to your imagine as Custer's Katie becomes more and more desperate to get her life back to normal.

Katie Sah is a hoot as a neighbor who isn't exactly repulsed by the idea of a group of Aussie men dancing around semi-clad, while the men themselves manage to keep the scenario fun and, considering the scenario, surprisingly innocent.

Lawton's script is quite hilarious, especially if you get its cultural references and especially when the humor is allowed to go really, really broad. Zachary Halberd's lensing is creative and especially fun when he allows the camera to focus on Custer's increasingly exasperated body language.

Couch Surfer, the latest production from Kinetic Studios NYC, recently had a packed house private screening in New York City in advance of its upcoming film festival run. I'd look for it to be a fixture on the indie/underground film festival circuit.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic