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The Independent Critic

John Tueart, Jack Pybus, Roisin McCusker, Helen Lewis, Susan Woodard, Steve Connolly, Patrick O'Donnell, Charlie Fallows, Kat Hancock, and Lucy Brennan
Jack B. Levy
14 Mins.

 Short Film "Nick" Set for Premiere at Horror-On-Sea Film Festival 
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There's an almost cult-like aura surrounding writer/director U.K.-based filmmaker Jack B. Levy's unsettling 14-minute short film Nick, though one wouldn't be completely insane, especially here in the U.S., to have more than a few flashbacks to Trump rallies and their religious fervor meets violent rejection of anyone and everyone who disagrees with them. 

Scheduled for its premiere at the Horror-On-Sea Film Festival on January 21st before a planned extended festival run, Nick introduces us to a young couple (John Tueart and Helen Lewis) who've gathered outside a rather nondescript building in anticipation of a performer of sorts they've come to see who goes by the name of Nick. 

Nick (Jack Pybus) is a seemingly innocent enough chap. He's a bit of a poet and troubadour, an older gent with a kind and soothing face whose words wax eloquently about not all that much other than feel good things delivered in feel good tones. I suppose you could call it an even less insightful variation on The Secret, a book that grew ludicrously popular despite not saying all that damn much. 

While Nick doesn't seem to say all that much, those in attendance seem mesmerized by his every word and are practically in a hypnotic trance `in a way that feels absurd yet becomes utterly believable thanks to Pybus's low-key yet `compelling performance. 

If you've ever been to a spirit filled-church where you didn't get spirit filled, then you'll kind of understand the dilemma facing our well meaning yet unenthused couple, whose weariness becomes increasingly evident and eventually confronted as an affront to the artist. As a major kudo to Levy, it's a rare short film where even the more ensemble performances stand-out, but such is the case with Nick as Steve Connolly, Roisin McCusker, and Susan Woodard all have strong moments to shine despite not having all that much individual screen time. 

Nick is expertly written, dialogue both realistic and darkly funny, and the film's story unfolds in a way that pulls you in quickly, relaxes you, tightens up your shoulder muscles then doesn't let you go until after the closing credits have scrolled by. The film's lensing is atmospheric and mood-setting, while Tueart does an exceptional job of wringing his dialogue of all its anxious chills and dry bits of humor. Helen Lewis is an absolute gem, an innocent-looking woman whose every facial expression communicates much and whose final scene will swash around your brain for quite some time. 

Nick is an intelligent thriller, the kind of short film that seems to have layers going on beneath it yet is perfectly enjoyable even if you choose to not see it through a sociological or socio-political lens. Nick is a definite winner and it'll be a blast to watch its festival run.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic