Reviewbr> "What goes in the house, and around the house, but never touches the house?" - Paul
In a post-apocalyptic future two men, Paul and Vox, are trudging through the remote Australian desert with a wheelbarrow full of equipment. We gradually learn water is a premium resource and the men are hunting a shadow creature. Apparently the creature, the titular "Quinkin", is out of the Koori dreamtime myth cycle. Anyways our two hunters come across a desiccated body and Paul retrieves a book of apparent riddles.
As the duo near their destination Paul begins to poise some riddles to Vox, who pretty much has them covered. Finally, as they make camp, Paul throws a riddle at Vox that has him stumped. Tension escalates and we learn that the Quinkin isn't the only monster in the outback. Also worth noting the buses are no longer running, how's that for a simple apocalyptic footnote.
Michael "Mick" Wannenmacher's debut short for Before Dawn Films is one of those outings that sort of make me glad I decided to help out when the concept of ScaryMinds was mooted. It presents the best of local film making talent tied in with a distinctive Aussie flavour. Besides which this is the last review of 2011, what a fitting way to sign off the year. Interesting mix of Aboriginal dreamtime myth and post-apocalyptic bleakness for mine.
Behind the camera Director Michael Wannenmacher makes it happen in pretty solid fashion. There are no wasted frames, the Aussie light is used to outstanding effect, and nothing is allowed to distract from where the film is headed. Wannenmacher shows the sort of firm control of the short that makes you wonder just how good the Director would be behind the camera in a feature length outing. I've got a fair idea we would end up with a hell of a good movie, based on the skills being shown in Quinkin.
Wannenmacher has an almost intuitive ability to use light and darkness to the best of effects, shadows play a big part in the movie. The light is almost too bright, natural Aussie daylight shown without filters, with darkness creeping in via shadows from the surrounding trees etc. This aspect of the movie made me wonder if our Director isn't influenced by either Hitchcock or the German expressionist movement. It takes tight control and film making ability to get shadows working for you as a tension device, Wannenmacher nails it.
Creature feature wise, yes the film does have a monster, Wannenmacher will have you nodding your head over one of the more economical denizens of the dark. Without giving too much away, there is a feeling of menace implicit in the situation, although I had a wry smile over the first appearance of the Quinkin.
Notably the film is a two shot with Wannenmacher getting the best out of himself and a harassed looking Brett Swain. Both Actors are holding things together via solid performances that will have you believing in the predicament they find themselves in. There's an impressive amount of emotion going down in under fifteen minutes, with Swain in particular keeping the film's ace in the hole hidden.
Like all good shorts Quinkin doesn't waste valuable time filling the audience in on why our duo of hunters is outback trying to capture a monster. Actually I don't think that is ever explained, but we do find out the framework of their situation via the dialogue. So yeah the film requires the Audience to listen to the dialogue rather than being simply told what the situation is about. Be prepare to also be left with a lot of questions after the end credits roll, Wannenmacher leaves us with no firm idea of how things end, once again like a good short should do.
Of course the hook Quinkin uses to hold its audience are the riddles being asked during the middle and final sections. A particularly cool tactic that had me high fiving various Dr Who action figures in my lounge room. Once again Wannenmacher and Swain nail the dialogue to have things rocking in this regard.
Paul Witty added the score, which begins very much with traditional Koori instruments that blend into an eerie electronic montage. Wannenmacher uses the score sparingly after the initial credit roll, relying more effectively on ambient noise. Witty's work captures just the right mixture of Koori mythology mixed with post-apocalyptic bleakness, something the Director's visuals are constantly reminding us of. Actually thinking about it there are shades of certain slasher's theme going down.
I was surprised by Quinkin's ability to throw quite menace my way, all about those POVs from something unseen in the surrounding bush, the interactions of the two characters that rocked the house down, and the overall pacing of the short. Director Wannenmacher certainly has me hanging out for his next movie. If you get a chance to catch Quinkin then grab on with both hands, the short will rock your house down.
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