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The Independent Critic

Robert Nolan, Astrida Auza, Cathryn Hostick
Richard Powell
24 Mins.

 "Familiar" Review 
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Writer/director Richard Powell seemingly begins his latest short film Familiar where his last short film, Worm, ended by delving deep into the dark and disturbing mind of a seemingly normal man (once again played with captivating menace by Robert Nolan).

Nolan's John Dodd is a your typical ordinary suburban husband with a typical ordinary wife and teenage daughter. The problem is, we are quick to realize, is that he doesn't appear to be particularly fond of his almost college aged daughter nor his wife, with whom he's becoming increasingly detached.

If you remember Worm, you'll remember that Powell created a teacher whose inner voice revealed demons were hidden behind a facade of normalcy and compassion. Familiar is an edgier and even darker film, both an expression of what happens when that inner voice reveals itself in our behaviors and an even more horrifying look inside a man rapidly unraveling. Rather that create a character overtly mad or insane or antisocial, Nolan plays Dodd as sort of a Cronenberg meets Taxi Driver meets Falling Down. Dodd's fragile grasp of sanity maintains only because his daughter (Cathryn Hostick) will be heading off to college and he believes that will free him to leave what he believes to be a long stale marriage. When his wife (Astrida Auza) reveals that she's pregnant, any semblance of sanity begins to evaporate.

Just as was true with Worm, Familiar is a remarkable artistic vision that should find tremendous popularity on the genre and indie film fest circuit. D.P. Michael Jari Davidson lenses the film beautifully, never giving away just exactly what's going on here while also creating imagery both larger than life and jarringly intimate when he focuses his lens on Nolan's expressive physical performance. A special effects team known as The Butcher Shop also contributes impressive work here that far transcends the film's modest production budget.

Familiar will have its premiere at Fangoria's Fright Nights in Canada on March 2, 2012. If you get the chance, Familiar is definitely a film that will please fans of intelligent, independent horror.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic