Re-Displacement feels like a Black Mirror pitch
Opening on a therapy session set in a calm-seeming office, Re•displacement starts off very quietly. We get a quick little introduction to Leo (Nico Mirallegro), a sympathetic soul seeking help from Doctor Michelle (Nathalie Cox) who has an experimental treatment. The treatment is similar, in many ways, to a virtual reality simulator that allows Leo to walk through his own memories to come face to face with a trauma that he’s been desperately trying to keep buried for years. This is quickly explained within a few minutes of the short beginning, allowing us to relax and enjoy this ride.
The short feels like it’s a pitch for a Black Mirror episode, one that I would very much like to see. The technology is simple and quickly explained, allowing an easy explanation for why some weirder things are happening. It also allows the filmmakers to have some fun with the visuals, which they let rip during the height of tension when Leo is about to crack from the pressure building thanks to the treatment.
Each new memory has a slightly different visual tone, making it easy to follow while we bunny hop from place to place and see more and more of what’s in Leo’s brain, some of which is never explained but helps to give a sense of a more well-rounded character than we normally see in 15-minute shorts.
Nico Mirallegro’s Performance Sells the Film
The main performance by Nico Mirallegro helps sell everything, from the nervousness around the experiment to the shock at the first big reveal of the short (I say first because this thing takes a few sharp bends at the end). Every scene just makes us want to see him get better, the distress on his face drawing us in so easily.
It also really helps that the production design is seriously impressive, creating some haunting visuals (not spoiling details, but there is a shot of a bunch of trees that made me gasp) and making the most out of what they had. When you have 15 minutes to tell a story, you need to make sure every single shot is essential to propelling that story and there isn’t an ounce of fat on this thing. It’s so well planned out that it makes me angry, this much talent shouldn’t be in one place.
The ending will divide audiences and I’m a little on the fence about it. It’s certainly unexpected and leaves you with a lot of questions, but those questions will probably never be answered and I don’t know how I feel about that. Part of me likes the ambiguity of it. Part of me would like at least a little more resolution… Maybe this can just be an incentive for them to work this into a feature-length film? I would gleefully watch that.
On the whole, Re-displacement is an intriguing short that has a lot to say, even if it doesn’t quite have the answers for it. Despite some mild stumbles, there’s enough interesting character work and visual treats here to satisfy anyone. You’re going to end up really hoping for more when you’re done but that’s the sign of a really great short film – make the audience desperate for more by the time the short is done.