Wednesday, 28 January 2015


I’ve had the pleasure to cover a pretty good run of great shorts on this site so far in 2015 — from She to Call Girl, from Ghost Train to Snake With A Human Tail to Steve Kahn’s Fear.
And now I’m hitting you with another award winning film. The Brain Hack will be FREE to view on the film’s official site from 30th January. So to wet your appetite, here’s my EXCLUSIVE review.
Will this latest award winner break the streak of great shorts? Read on…


Dir: Joseph White
Starring: Edward Franklin, Alexander Owen

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: This is a short, so I’ll try not to spoil too much but read on at your own risk.
While on a film studies course, impressionable student Harper (Owen) meets brilliantly wacky Fallon (Franklin) who shares his daring vision.
Using a knowledge of neurotheology, Fallon believes that he has discovered a way in which he can cause spiritual enlightenment and religious awe using a carefully constructed series of images, utilising light and symmetry to cause the viewer to ‘see God’.
Presenting a well-constructed argument citing various religious experiences and using some experimental software, Fallon follows the real theory that temporal lobe epilepsy can be linked with several sets of ‘religious behaviour’.
With this in mind, he and Harper use neuroimaging to work out exactly the right sequence of images to cause ‘a glitch in the brain’ and incur a Divine experience in the viewer. 
However, after testing the footage, Fallon starts to see shadowy figures observing him, drawing ever closer. Has the research drawn the attention of a secretive religious sect? The Government? Even the Devil himself?

WHY IT WORKS: How apt that a film that focuses on the workings of the brain should be one of the most intelligent shorts I’ve ever seen. As a premise alone, based on some pretty weighty scientific theories (and I do stress that these are very much theoretical) this is not a piece of throwaway popcorn cinema. 
Of course, this doesn’t even factor in the deeper issues and themes of the short, religion and the aesthetic, devoutness as an abnormality, god as a construct of the mind, the divine creativity of the media and the worship of the viewer. These are huge subjects, well worthy of contemplation, and the short does a marvellous job of provoking some discussion and contemplation of each.
If I’m making The Brain Hack sound quite dense or dry, I really need to say that this is most certainly not the case. It is intellectual, but it never foregoes its primary mission to entertain. There are plenty of thrills to be had throughout, from the nerve-shredding opening scene to that in which Harper finds himself pursued by a menacing masked assailant. These are legitimately thrilling moments and are guaranteed to get pulses racing.
There is also plenty of entertainment to be had from the shifting dynamic of the relationship between our two young filmmakers. As Fallon becomes more deeply immersed in his research the paranoia it induces threatens to consume him. The desperate lengths to which he is prepared to sink to complete his work are undoubtedly extreme, but he still remains a sympathetic character.
This is due, in no small part, to the performance of the absolutely fantastic Edward Franklin. Franklin has been picking up best actor awards for his turn as Fallon and I COMPLETELY concur. He is wonderful, making the character likeable, erratic, at times arrogant and inherently flawed yet still brilliant and captivating. I‘m not one for this sort of thing usually, but if Steven Moffat is looking for a new Dr Who anytime soon, he could do a lot worse than to audition Franklin for the role. This is a young man who will go a very, very long way.
Of course, this isn’t a one man show and Alexander Owen has an equally large role to play. Luckily, Owen is every bit as fantastic in his portrayal of Harper. There is plenty of range to this character and Owen nails it. He serves as a great audience surrogate in the earlier exposition scenes, but then takes on a very different role as the film progresses. He has some wonderful moments during the short’s brisk runtime and, like Franklin, I shall watch Owen‘s further career with great interest.
But back to writer and director White’s highly intelligent story — this is a film with a smart, cutting plot, one with plenty of twists and turns leading to a truly amazing conclusion. 
Furthermore, White tells the story well. Dan Stafford Clark’s cinematography is a revelation while White’s editing brings the film together perfectly. It looks fantastic, it zips by at a brisk and compelling pace, yet never feels rushed or clunky.
The dialogue is excellent, the two leads are wonderful and the plot is more intelligent, thought-provoking and weighty than any number of big-budget Hollywood sci-fi flicks. This is an easy recommendation for a truly great film. See it.

SO WHERE’S IT AT? It will be available to view right here at The Brain Hack’s official site from 30th January 2015. Get there, watch it and have one hell of a great time.
While you’re at it, check out the short’s official Facebook page. Give it a Like, while you’re there, film this smart deserves your support!

10 WORD WRAP UP: A top cast in an intelligent and thought-provoking thriller 

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

No comments:

Post a Comment