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The Independent Critic

Tom Scorzone, Brooke Greening, Julia Wyrzuc, Jenn Nobile, Chelsea Rose Barreto
Joshua Nelson
36 Mins.

 "Special" An Engaging Short Thriller 
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Joshua Nelson's 36-minute Special is an engaging thriller wrapped around a not so special man, Paulie (Tom Scorzone), and his ultra-special daughter Peyton (Brooke Greening). 

Peyton is, well, definitely special. With a "gift" for a special form of ESP that allows her to simply "will" people to death, Peyton has become increasingly exploited by her father's desire to exploit that gift for financial gain as he becomes a sort of indirect hit man known for being able to eliminate his target without any sign of a homicide having actually occurred. 

While Peyton follows her father's will, it's less than willingly as she sees this "gift" as a curse and aspires to a life of normalcy. When she meets someone else with a similar gift (Julia Wyrzuc), she begins to realize that her gift can ultimately be used to her own advantage though her father's dark intentions remain an ever present obstacle of sorts. 

At 36 minutes, Special exists on that fine line between what would be known as a short film and what could potentially be known as  a feature film, admittedly a rather short feature. It's an odd place to be and, at times, the film shows both a little bit of strain in telling its short tale over 36 minutes and having quite a bit more that could actually be told. That said, Special is an engaging thriller with compelling performances by both Scorzone and Greening to guide it. Scorzone makes for an intimidating figure, man of much bravado and swagger with little to actually back it up beyond a gift that isn't actually his gift. On the flip side, Greening radiates a sort of teenage/young adult exasperation about herself that comes through with increasing vibrance over the course of the film. I found myself additionally really taken by the work of Antonio Evez, Kenny Ledee, and the aforementioned Wyrzuc here and the acting ensemble overall is definitely a notch above the usual low-budget indie. 

With multiple death scenes in the film, Special does a somewhat surprisingly nice job of pulling it all off. This is no small challenge for an indie project without the benefit of lots of  visual and special effects but D.P. Michael Zayac does a nice job of making the lensing work and the film's prize for Best Gore at the Hollywood Blood Horror Film Festival speaks to the team's success. 

Special may not be the best indie thriller/horror short you're going to see this year, but it's a special beast of a film with a dark origin story at its beating heart and a willingness to examine the darker side of having a "gift." 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic